When Bishops Earn Our Gratitude

Paprocki & Vigneron

Whenever veteran Catholics stop to consider the on-going crisis of faith in the Church, now entering its fifth decade with no abatement in sight, the news does not come as a surprise. They have longed suspected that the center would not hold. And it is no particular sunburst to say so. They certainly know, for instance, that among the so-called faithful there is a huge swath of opinion that is either clueless about what exactly to believe or unconvinced that any of it is worth believing. By now, surely, more or less everyone has gotten off the bus and can see for themselves the extent of the devastation wrought in the post-conciliar period by the loss of a corporate and shared faith.

But there is another aspect to this business that has largely escaped the attention it deserves, at least in the popular press where, increasingly, Catholics are instructed as to what to think and how to behave.  In fact, it is a far more alarming development than levels of attrition among the laity because, while the fallout from the loss of faith will certainly affect those of us who are expected to pray, pay and obey, the real and lasting damage has already been done owing to the failure of leadership among many of the bishops, the chief exercise of whose office, after all, is to teach, govern and sanctify the rest of us. The nature of the crisis they face is not a loss of faith, of belief, but of nerve.

What I mean by that is not terribly complicated; it isn’t a matter of rocket science. Unlike the rank and file who very often will appear not to know anything about the teachings of the Church to which they belong, here are the Teachers themselves who, knowing exactly what we are to believe and how we ought to behave, seem strangely unsure of themselves in summoning the courage to defend all that they know.   How this can be with men divinely appointed to uphold the Church’s faith, enjoined no less by the founder himself to “guard the noble deposit” (2 Tim 1: 14), is a source of both bewilderment and pain.

Now it not altogether true that all the bishops are sunk in cowardice; there are real and undeniable pockets of resistance out there, of Shepherds not supinely bent on going along in order to get along. An outbreak of niceness may well be raging throughout the land, causing not a few of our leaders to soft pedal the hard sayings of the Gospel.  But not all are lowering their voices lest they give offense to the wolves baying just beyond cathedral doors for episcopal blood.

Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki, for example, who presides over the diocese of Springfield, Illinois, where the notorious Sen. Dick Durbin has long been a member, confirmed this year his intention to uphold the judgment of one of his pastors in withholding Holy Communion from so conspicuous a champion of abortion rights. This most exemplary bishop has made the killing of unborn babies, which has long been the hot button issue of our time, into a litmus test to determine the authenticity of Roman Catholic adherence to the Church’s moral teaching.   And in his appeal to Canon 915, which plainly prescribes that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion,” he is spot-on.

Will his example catch fire? The verdict is still out on that one.

Meanwhile, on the matter of gay marriage, which is the other hot button issue at the moment, there is a very bright and stalwart Archbishop in Detroit by the name of Allen Vigneron, who not only has sense enough to parse the relevant distinctions on which proponents of same-sex marriage have lately been impaling themselves, but is possessed of a passion for enforcing the Church’s teaching that should endear him to orthodox Catholics everywhere. “For a Catholic to receive Holy Communion and still deny the Revelation Christ entrusted to the Church,” he has announced, “is to try and say two contradictory things at once: ‘I believe the Church offers the saving truth of Jesus, and I reject what the Church teaches.’”

Such an exercise in equivocation will not go unnoticed, or unpunished, on his watch. “This sort of behavior,” he bluntly reminded those who will not desist from actively promoting perversion, “would result in publicly renouncing one’s integrity and logically bring shame for a double dealing that is not unlike perjury.”

Have the advocates of same-sex marriage taken notice? Who knows? But in the meantime His Excellency has left them no wiggle room whatsoever. At least in Detroit, that is.

Then there is the example of the former Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke, who has since been translated to Rome, where he is doing splendid things for the Church, who robustly announced his approval of Canon 915. Why does he like it so much? Because the application of it provides the perfect remedy for the two grave and terrible disorders which have lately threatened the integrity of the Church’s faith and life. “The priest’s refusal to give Holy Communion,” he has declared (and without a scintilla of irony), “is a prime act of pastoral charity, helping the person in question to avoid sacrilege and safeguarding the other faithful from scandal.”

How can anyone possibly improve on that? If clarity, as Ortega y Gasset once famously put it, is the philosopher’s courtesy, then it really is an example of the most admirable hospitality, i.e., charity, when the Church, having drawn her line carefully in the sand, goes on authoritatively to remind us of the precise limits of permissible dissent. Not everything is allowable, she is saying. God will not suffer with impunity continued and egregious assaults upon the truth of which she, the Church, stands as repository. And if the Church herself must someday have to answer before God for this endowment he has solemnly entrusted to her, then she needs to make it her business to ensure basic compliance. Especially as it impinges upon the most sacred reality of all, to wit, the Holy Eucharist, concerning which there is nothing more necessary for her to preserve or defend.   How can it serve as a sign of unsurpassed unity unless those who receive are themselves united in the things for which we must all have a shared love?

The point is, the Church remains the custodian of all that God wishes to give to the world Christ suffered to redeem, beginning with the gift of himself. And so she must give witness before the world to those truths that finally transcend the world. These are not her truths, by the way, but his. It is not, as Cardinal Newman so memorably put it, “that which thou hast discovered; but what thou hast received, not what thou hast thought out; a matter, not of cleverness, but of teaching; not of private handling, but of public tradition.”

Isn’t it about time for all the bishops to step up to the plate and declare, not just where the Church stands on these issues of life and love, but what precise sanctions exist in order to enforce the importance of what it is she believes? How will the world be moved to believe in Christ if his Bride, the Church, can’t even keep her own house in order? What else does it mean to call her Mater et Magistra (to recall the lovely phrase used by Pope Saint John XXIII in his encyclical of 1961)? It means that having been chosen by God to help shepherd the human race back to him, she mustn’t be afraid to tell us of the dangers we face when we fail to listen and obey. And that to disregard the strictures necessary for us to make it safely home, we risk taking ourselves to hell.

Regis Martin

By

Regis Martin is Professor of Theology and Faculty Associate with the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. He earned a licentiate and a doctorate in sacred theology from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Martin is the author of a number of books, including Still Point: Loss, Longing, and Our Search for God (2012) and, most recently, The Beggar's Banquet (Emmaus Road). He resides in Steubenville, Ohio, with his wife and ten children.

  • John O’Neill

    It is good news to discover that some of the American episcopate are taking a stand. For too long the Catholic faithful have been left leaderless as the conference of Catholic bishops has continued to ignore people like Nancy Pelosi who publicly declared that abortion was “sacred to her Catholic faith”. American bishops sadly come from that group of mostly Irish Americans who believe that they were born Catholic but then baptized Democrat and that their job is to forward the teachings of America’s political establishment. Jesus clearly instructed his first bishops to go and preach the gospel to all mankind; not go and make the world safe for democracy.

    • TheAbaum

      Voting Democrat is the eighth sacrament in much of Pennsylvania don’t you know?

      • jonnybeeski

        Are you from PA, Mr. Abaum? One of the saddest days I can remember was when Bp. Martino left/was forced out/encouraged to resign, apparently because he was, you know, Catholic and orthodox.

        • TheAbaum

          I’m not only from PA, but formerly of that Diocese.

          • jonnybeeski

            The Elton John concert may have been before my time. I converted in ’99. I have been in the diocese since conversion, although now we attend an Anglican Use Ordinariate parish most of the time.

            • ForChristAlone

              Yes, the Anglican Ordinariate is the way to go. My wife and I attended an Ordinariate Mass on Holy Thursday. Thought-provoking homily, no washing of the feet, Mass said in the vernacular and ad orientem which means that the priest is not forced to feel like he’s a performer and we’re an audience. If I weren’t 90 minutes fro this church, I’s make it my permanent home.

              • jonnybeeski

                Less than an hour from where I live, in addition to the AU Ordinariate parish, there is an FSSP parish, a Melkite rite, a Byzantine rite, and a Maronite rite parish, I think. We went to the FSSP parish on a weekend when Fr. Berg, the superior I think, was there, and my bride wants to go to some of the other liturgies as well.

                • TheAbaum

                  I live near a Byzantine Parish, but I’m a creature of habit and go with what I know.

                  FSSP?

            • TheAbaum

              I’m thinking before that.

              Welcome home.

              • jonnybeeski

                Amen. Yes.

                • TheAbaum

                  I’ll be two miles from your Parish on Sunday..

                  Woo Woo…

                  • jonnybeeski

                    Wow, small world!

                    • TheAbaum

                      Yep.

        • Tony

          You gentlemen probably don’t know it, but I’m from Archbald …. the Pothole, and all …

      • Slainte

        A-baum, just FYI , when you change your pseudonym, disqus reflects your new name attached to all your old posts which may defeat your efforts at anonymity. Not sure you realized this. I just read a Crisis article from last year and your new name was attached to your posts. Pax.

        • DE-173

          I do realize it. I was not trying to conceal my new handle, otherwise I would have created a new one, but thanks.

          It reflects a mood change, the U.S.S. Eldridge. Google “DE-173″. You will see that it call letters of a ship. You will also see it attached to “Al Bielek”, “Project Rainbow”, Einstein, Tesla and Montauk.

          • slainte

            Okey doke…will take a look at that list. Have a good one.
            .
            I wonder what ever happened to Alecto…I was reading some of her posts…very intelligent person, but unexpectedly anti Catholic in her later posts.

            • DE-173

              Threw a tantrum at me on the way out, because in one of her screeds she lashed out at me about something, then after a response made a comment about me not being worth her time or some other insult. At that point, I asked if that were true why was she following me on Disqus.

              Game over.

  • Dick Prudlo

    Yes, Mr. Martin there are pockets of orthodoxy even among our bishops. The three men mentioned are truly taking bold steps and are to be admired. What I await is our Bishop of Rome to follow suit and support that which these three support, Catholic Teaching. We will soon see if it is following the synod on marriage and family. I pray that the apostasy will not be in full bloom when it is over. In the mean we who believe in those things that have been passed on will not be tossed out in favor of more “springtime.”

  • TERRY

    It is good to praise those Bishops that stand up for the faith but I believe more would be accomplished by calling out those who NOT defend it.

    • ForChristAlone

      Got that right. Name names.

      • TERRY

        I live in Maine and on March 4 of this year Anne Hendershott wrote an article in CM on our former Bishop Malone who is now in Buffalo and who called out a democratic catholic politician in his area appropriately named Kennedy whose position on abortion had ‘evolved’ and the Bishop called him out on it.

        It is a scandal that this is not done every day.

        It reminds me of an old union song – “Which side are you on?”

  • FernieV

    If this article were applied by the Church’s pastors I strongly believe most of its problems will disappear. There is also need to ask the Holy Spirit for the virtue of Prudence to be able to apply the needed remedies. Thank you for this article!

  • AcceptingReality

    I love it when Bishops and Cardinals assert that politicians who support abortion and “same-sex marriage” should not receive Holy Communion. They are so right! But what about the Catholics in the pews who routinely vote for those politicians? Aren’t they, by their votes, co-operating with the perpetuation of grave evil? Isn’t routinely voting for those candidates sinful? No one ever mentions that. Why are the “Five Non-negotiables for Catholic Voters” are all but ignored? Every Catholic should know them but I am willing to bet more than half don’t know they exist. And more than half of Catholics go right on voting for “Party of Death” candidates.

    • tamsin

      Given the vehemence with which some of my fellow parishioners hold that “we will end abortion when we end poverty”, there must be some parallel Five Non-Negotiables for Social Justice Voters floating around out there…

      • TheAbaum

        I have it on good authority that there will always be poverty.

      • TommyD6of11

        5 Social Justice Non-Negotiables:

        1) Abortion on demand

        2) Establishment of the Welfare State

        3) Condamnation of America

        4) Condamnation of Western Civilization

        5) Replacement of God with the almighty secular State

    • TheAbaum

      “Why are the “Five Non-negotiables for Catholic Voters” are all but ignored?”

      Because people see the curious interpretations of Church doctrine that scandalize them and breed contempt. In the back of my Church, there’s a guide to the examination of conscience. Under the Fourth Commandment, it asks the penitent if they are observant of civil law and authorities.

      For most people, the answer is “sort of” -we avoid major ruptures with the innumerable codes that govern our life, with of course the exception of motor vehicle speed limits, in part because we realize they are “malum prohibitum”, in part because we routinely observe police ignoring those laws, and observe those same police hiding in order to “catch” speeders rather than establishing a visible presence to DETER speeding.

      However, we routinely see Bishops that demand that we support, with unquestioning fealty an ever increasing welfare state, aid and abet the breaking of the borders, in some cases actively harboring fugitives and demand the erasure of those borders, and the insulation of lawbreaking from penalty.

      We saw them join the clapping seal brigade when Obama and his minions were passing Obamacare and then act surprised and hurt when the monster came knocking on their door, offering feeble response that did little more than underscore the calculation that in a dispute between party and Church, for the average Democrat.

      Most do nothing about the Pelosis, Bidens and others who seriously and repeatedly promote abortion, gay marriage and other violations simple and clear moral precepts, but without slightest evidence of any technical competence, feel free to wade into budget proposals, matters of prudential decisions and issue lachrymose retorts based on ignorant indignity and little else.

      When one learns that a Cardinal Bernardin paid airfare to send a young Barack Obama (not a Catholic, not an employee or volunteer of the Archdiocese) throwing the widow’s pearls before swine, one is scandalized.

      • ForChristAlone

        I just heard an excerpt of Wenski homily from a church near Capitol Hill wherein he said that these “undocumented” are not lawbreakers but that they are the ones being crushed by the laws. Who writes the homilies for these guys, Code Pink?”

        • TheAbaum

          My very point.

          Sounds like he’s for an unregulated free market.

        • TheAbaum

          Undocumented is the same wordplay that appropriated “gay”.

    • ForChristAlone

      I have heard of a priest in a Southern diocese who, when Obama was elected told his parishioners that if they voted for this pro-abort idiot (my words, not his), they should consider seriously needing to go to confession. It took about 10 minutes for a call to come through from the Archbishop of a Southern archdiocese ordering that this priest be silenced.

      • Jon82

        Fear of losing that tax exempt status. Nothing more. It is illegal for the priest in the pulpit to tell parishioners how to vote. Period.

        • TheAbaum

          Absolutely NO.

          It’s not your place to deny tax exempt status.

          • Jon82

            How to Lose Your 501(c)(3) Tax Exempt Status (Without Really Trying)

            It’s easy for a nonprofit organization to maintain its tax exempt status—and can be just as easy to lose it.

            Each year, the IRS revokes the tax-exempt status of more than 100 501(c)(3) organizations. Organizations recognized as exempt from federal income tax under this section of the Internal Revenue Code include private foundations as well as churches, educational institutions, hospitals, and many other types of public charities.

            But these organizations can maintain their tax-exempt status if they heed the rules in six areas:

            Private benefit/inurement

            Lobbying

            Political campaign activity

            Unrelated business income (UBI)

            Annual reporting obligation

            Operation in accord with stated exempt purpose(s)

            • TheAbaum

              Churches are exempt because they are Churches, not because they meet the requirements of Title 26.

              Until you are an attorney, CPA or EA, leave the tax code to licensed professionals.

              • Jon82

                unless you are a priest or bishop or Holy Father, leave Holy Communion to the ordained.

                • TheAbaum

                  Likewise.

                  • Jon82

                    I do. You are the one advocating for denial of Sacrament of Holy Communion.

                    • TheAbaum

                      No.

                    • TheAbaum

                      I am advocate for people not giving scandal by receiving unworthily. The Bishops are in their right to deny Communion, and you deny that rightful authority.

                      Then again, I don’t flip the bird at strangers (and think I’m clever, when it’s actually raising the flag of futility).

                    • Jon82

                      The scandal is bishops who stomp their feet over the issues they ‘care about’ and ignore the abusing priests and move them over and over. Whether someone is ‘worthy’ to present themselves for Holy Communion is between them and God. Self-righteous Pharisee types always want to decide for everyone else. We know what Christ thought of the Pharisees.

                    • jonnybeeski

                      I think He told us to listen to them, since they occupy the seat of Moses. Is that what you mean?

                    • Jon82

                      Nice try, but no Jonny, whoever exalts himself shall be humbled. And the seven solemn woes pronounced upon them.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      I thought you had already left

                    • TheAbaum

                      “We know what Christ thought of the Pharisees.”

                      We also know what he thought of fornicators, liars and hypocrites.

                    • RufusChoate

                      The problem for you is the teaching of the Church is clear and the Bishops are weak or corrupt so you hide behind the vituperative of calling people Pharisees who are scandalized by objectively evil people being allowed to flaunt the ancient teachings of the Church and call themselves Catholic in a public forum.

                    • Jon82

                      The problem for me is you and those like you who use teaching of the church as though it were the words of Jesus, or God himself, rather than inspired/or uninspired as is often the case created by man as a stick to beat others. Teachings change and should as they did with regard to slavery as just one example. Some just want their ‘old time’ church back and are willing to kick everyone else out till they get it. Christ welcomed and accepted all, unconditionally, and thankfully, so does our Holy Father Francis it seems. Cheers, I have no more time nor interest in wasting energy with you and yours.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      use the time saved to go to confession

                    • TheAbaum

                      We’ve survived another drive-by,

                    • Interested

                      The effete and intellectually weak cannot stand and defend their demonic views for long.

                    • Jon82

                      The only demons I see here are in others, but thanks, when people say horrible things about me, I know I am speaking the truth they cannot hear.

                    • Tony

                      Name for me the Pope who declared that slavery was a good thing. Name for me the Council that declared the same. But I can show you a long train of papal and conciliar statements that are critical of it. To the Christian churches we owe the obliteration of slavery from the west. But you cannot say that the Church has ever declared something to be permissible or even blessed, which was once condemned as wicked, and not just by the Church but by apostolic teaching in the New Testament.

                      Jesus Himself said, If they reject you, know that it is not you they reject, but me. Jesus Himself said, What you bind on earth shall be held bound in heaven. Moral truth does NOT change, any more than God Himself can change. John XXIII named his great encyclical Mater et Magistra, Mother and Teacher. That was not Schoolmarm and Recommender.

                    • Jon82

                      The church held for many centuries that slavery was not immoral and many members/leaders had slaves. Your moral truth will change and you will be left behind. Cheers.

                    • Tony

                      Sorry, wrong. The Church made no definitive statement about slavery, none. There was in those days no social safety net, and servitude was not the same thing as slavery is in many countries now. But the constant thrust of the Church was to mitigate the evil and then to eliminate it. Read what I said again. No teaching was changed, because there was no definitive yes or no. What you want is the Church to say now that something that she has always proscribed as wicked (and that is proscribed as wicked by the New Testament itself) is going to be permissible. That is not to raise the bar but to lower it. In the case of the sexual revolution, it is to throw it away.

                      To say that good and evil can change is to say that God is not God, but a figment of our imagination, subject to political currents.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      It rather depends on how slavery is defined. In 1866 the Holy Office, in response to an inquiry from Africa, ruled that although slavery (servitus) was undesirable, it was not per se opposed to natural or divine law. This ruling pertained to the kind of servitude that was customary in certain parts of Africa at the time.

                      Of course, the Church always condemned the plagiarist or man-stealer, as had both the Mosaic and Roman law

                    • Tony

                      “My” moral truth? I wasn’t the one who said that a man who puts away his wife and marries another commits adultery. Jesus was the one who said that. I wasn’t the one who, when discussing marriage, said “In the beginning God made them male and female,” and “for this reason a man will leave his mother and cleave unto his wife, and they two shall become one flesh.” That was Jesus, going back behind the Mosaic law to appeal to the Father’s intentions in the beginning. How you can go from that exalted view of sexual morality to Let’s All Sodomize, or Let’s Get Divorced, or Isn’t Fornication Fun?, I don’t know. Your quarrel is not with me. It is with the explicit words of the Lord.

                    • Jon82

                      Homophobic comments have no place is Christian discourse.

                    • Tony

                      Did I say anything specifically about homosexuals? I didn’t. Sodomy ain’t limited to them. Pope Leo calls those vices unspeakable. Was Pope Leo XIII not Christian? But don’t evade the issue. What God commands of us as regards sex is only what is good for us anyway, and what He forbids is only what is bad for us anyway. The society we now live in is what our grandparents — yours too — would have found unutterably vulgar, ugly, debased, lonely, and sad. My students who are trying to follow the law of God have nowhere to turn to — because it’s either get with the fornication, or get lost. Things are beginning to improve here and there, but it’s slow, and the cost of the sexual revolution has been no less than chaos, cynicism, and loneliness.

                    • Jon82

                      You seem so unhappy. That is a reason so many are not feeling like being in our faith; so many are negative and nasty and RULES RULES RULES. Smile, God Loves YOU, and me, and everyone.

                    • Tony

                      Must be madam, not sir.

                      I am actually a very happily married man. But I teach young people, in college, and have done so for nearly thirty years. I can’t shut my eyes to the hurt that has been caused by “adults” who think first and last of their own pleasure, their convenience, their sexual desires, and not of the common good, let alone of the liberating laws of God.

                      The commandments bring joy; violating them brings a frantic pleasure, which is not joy. If you want to see joy, take a look at the young women who are joining orthodox orders of nuns. Or the young men, absolutely faithful to our Holy Mother the Church, who are joining the priesthood.

                      When God says, “Here is the happiness I hold out to you,” that is not a rule — that is an adolescent’s way of looking at it. Jesus says, “Be ye holy, even as the Father is holy.” He is holding out for us something great and glorious. But we cannot have it on our terms. That doesn’t make any sense. We can never know the joy of being one with the Father, if we persist in telling the Father that we are smarter than He is, and that we will obey Him only when we feel like it. Love is love because it can be rejected. Jesus loved the Pharisees when He called them a generation of vipers — and who knows, maybe many of them finally heard, and turned toward the Truth.

                      But then all the Fathers and all the Christian poets knew that God’s commandments set mankind free. And even the pagan philosophers knew that vice enslaves.

                      This is my last message to you, and it is a personal appeal. If I have said anything that would make you less likely to obey the Church, please dismiss it as coming from the frailty of human nature. But do not take my words for anything. On these matters of marriage and sex, you have the words of Jesus, and Saint Paul, and Saint Peter, and Saint John, and the teachings of all the popes. Listen to them. They are liberating ….

                    • Jon82

                      Yeah I know lots of women named JON what a toad! Do not worry about me and my soul, we are fine. God loves me and I do what Jesus commanded: Love God with your whole heart, soul and mind and your neighbor as yourself. Just glad you are not my neighbor….HA

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      Your comments are evidence to the contrary.

                    • Jon82

                      Again, grateful I do not have to consider you my neighbor.

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      Your neighbor is anyone you come into contact with, or even someone you never met. We are neighbors since we have been in contact with each other. Christian Charity applies here.

                    • Jon82

                      I give what I get.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      You’re better than that, Jon82! Come on now.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      But you must consider him your neighbor if your name is Christian.

                    • Jon82

                      And we know they are exactly his words because an apostle had pen and paper and wrote them, as he spoke? No, the gospels were written after Jesus, some are perhaps his exact words, some are very much man-interpreted. Roman Catholics are not biblical literalists.

                    • Tony

                      Sir, or madam, you’re well out of your league. I read those scriptures in the original Greek. Do you now want to pick and choose which words of the Lord to throw away? His teaching regarding marriage would never have been made up by other people. It scandalized them. It went well beyond anything that the Greeks, the Romans, the Persians, or even the Jews were expecting. The apostles themselves were dismayed by it: “If this is so,” they said, then maybe it would be better not to marry at all.

                      The people who asked Jesus this question were wondering which of two positions He would take. Would He side with the more liberal Hillel, or the more conservative Shammai? He shocked them. He went behind the Mosaic Law itself — He said that Moses only allowed for divorce “because of the hardness of your hearts,” but that “from the beginning” it was not so.

                      The words “in the beginning” are crucial. In Jesus’ Hebrew they would have been “b’reshith,” the first word of Genesis: meaning, at the head of all things. The Greek is “en arche,” meaning, at the foundation of all things. We’re dealing in both cases with a principle that is not limited to time. That’s what John reveals to us when he says, “En arche en ho logos,” “In the beginning,” or “At the foundation of all things,” was the Word. Nobody in Jesus’ time would have dared to put the Mosaic Law itself in a subordinate position! But Jesus did, because, as He says, consistently, “You have heard it said,” quoting the law of Moses, “but I say to you.” That is what astounded the people most about Him, other than His miracles. He did not expound the text, the way the scribes did. He was Himself Lord of the text, the Word made flesh! He taught “with authority.”

                      That is what makes His pronouncement at the end of that conversation so astonishing. “Therefore what God has joined together,” meaning what He has just said, that in the beginning God made them male and female, to cleave unto one another and become one flesh, “let no man put asunder.” What “man” is he talking about, there? Not just the people before Him, but Moses himself — Moses, the great lawgiver!

                      And it isn’t as if Jesus’ teaching on marriage is not foreshadowed by the prophets, in their mystical teachings on God and His bride, Israel, and made more profound still by Jesus’ parables comparing the Kingdom of God to a wedding feast, and explicitly placing Himself in the role of bridegroom; and this helps to form the most profound meditations of Saint Paul and Saint John (Ephesians, Revelation). Those parables make absolutely no sense unless we see in them the most exalted view of marriage imaginable.
                      That isn’t literalism, Sir. It is an interpretation of the whole of Scripture, and it is backed up by the unswerving teaching of the Church for two thousand years. But why should we have to appeal to that, when the evidence is before our eyes, of what happens to a society that pursues pleasure above all — fancy houses, prestigious jobs, expensive toys, and the bed, always the bed.

                    • Jon82

                      How nice for you to have read it in Greek. How special. You are obviously learned and very pleased with yourself, so I will bid you adieu.

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      Can’t give an intelligent rebuttal, so you ridicule, and in a very immature manner as well.

                    • Jon82

                      Nothing worth saying to cases like you.

                    • Danielius

                      “Moral truth will change and you will be left behind.”
                      So, you mean to say that you don’t believe in truth and morality is a fiction enforced by a mob? Because that is what you are saying. In that case, statements like “Homophobic comments have no place is Christian discourse.” are also subject to the fluid moral change just like the rest of them. Why would then anyone ascribe to them any sort of normativity? Maybe I should wait three hours and the “truth” will change again?

                      You cannot cite Scripture or Tradition here, because in this and several other replies you claim that some of them are unreliable or man-made “created by man as a stick to beat other”. Well, which parts are which? How does one know that it’s not the “mercy and love” stuff that are man-made additions? Because you like them?
                      Why shouldn’t one go with Nietzsche, who thought that most of Christian morality was an expression of the ressentiment of the weak against the strong? That old German pagan at least bothered to provide arguments and not just empty emotivistic slogans.
                      Or given your high regard for Tradition, maybe I shall direct you toward Unitarian or Arian websites which argue that the
                      Trinity is a man-made fiction imposed on Christianity by power hungry
                      Trinitarians? (Oh, that evil emperor Constantine!) Why are they wrong to reject that part of tradition? Especially when the Trinity is notoriously difficult to make sense of? Surely, it’s a burden for people to accept something difficult to understand? It’s at least as burdensome as rules difficult to follow.
                      Ultimately, your position presented here renders the Catholic faith either useless (liberalism is enough to discern the good, in fact, it’s much better, ’cause past generations of Catholics got just about everything wrong!) or incoherent (the truth changes and can contradict itself). Neither is attractive for people who like to use their rational faculties.

                    • Interested

                      The usual lies from the dissenting Left. How tiresome and adolescent.

                    • Jon82

                      Mirror, mirror in your hands, you are talking about your self. Adolescent enough for you?

                    • Interested

                      Logic bounces off the rebellious Left.

                    • Interested

                      Your understanding of theology is twisted and wrong.

                    • Jon82

                      In your HUMBLE opinion. I trust in my relationship with God. No need to hear from you. Again, and again, and again. Your replies are dust in the wind.

                    • DE-173

                      Luther was sent back…

                    • ForChristAlone

                      so, when was the last time you went to confession?

                    • TheAbaum

                      Their failings don’t exhonerate you.

                    • Interested

                      Liberals are the Pharisees. They are true hypocrites.

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      Calling these Bishops names does not make them so. They have the authority to do this-it is not about some power struggle either- it’s about trying to get pro-abort politicians to change their hearts and minds for the good of their souls.

                    • Jon82

                      I was calling people like YOU Pharisees. You are save the baby, save the baby; Then when it is born–good luck with that, hope you have a good family and all the resources you need.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      How do you know what Desert Sun does?

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      You don’t personally know me or any other poster here. Like all liberal/progressives you make knee-jerk assumptions based on emotions. And you are extremely misinformed about Pro-Life groups as you are about Catholicism. Ever hear of the Gabriel Project or 40 Days for Life? The first group’s primary focus is to give support to expectant mothers in crisis pregnancies and the latter, besides being a prayerful presence in front of abortion mills, refers women to nearby crisis pregnancy centers whose purpose is to give assistance.

                    • Jon82

                      No, I do not know you, but those I do know here in my parish who stand outside yelling and occasionally praying are exactly as I described. If you do more than that, KUDOS.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      and you are advocating that it not be denied

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      Not really. He is simply in support of those Bishops who, rightly, do.

            • RufusChoate

              In the Obama age, I am sure they have acted on denials of Tax Exempt with the same alacrity they pursued the political foes of his administration but the fact is the threat was created by the Left to do exactly what you want them to do: silence opposition.

              • TheAbaum

                There is now a case proceeding that charges that the IRS was giving Israel friendly the tea party treatment.

        • jonnybeeski

          Not exactly. Tax exempt entities may not endorse candidates, but as regards issues, they can advocate. A bit of fine line sometimes, but real, nonetheless. As to why tax exempts should lose their free speech rights, that is another question altogether.

          • Jon82

            There is a time and place and the pulpit is neither, IMHO

            • jonnybeeski

              OK, but you stated it was illegal. I assume you were just using combox shorthand for a more detailed position, but as stated, I don’t think your statement was accurate.

              I must admit, I really do not see a connection between providing charitable services that the state would otherwise have to provide (one basis for the tax exemption) and restricting speech. The state is not doing a favor to the Church by providing the exemption; rather, it is the other way around.

            • RufusChoate

              Of course you don’t want to hear the objective truth of the Church’s teaching. It would disrupt your moral confusion and cause self doubt about your moral purity based on murdering children and robbing the productive.

              • Jon82

                Nice try, but I am very much clear on my faith and my relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I do not advocate for murdering anyone.

                • RufusChoate

                  Yes, I am sure you believe that just like every apostate and heretic in Church history the problem for you is your opinion doesn’t count in the long run.

                  • Jon82

                    You do not know me and have no right nor place to question my faith and call me an apostate.

                    • RufusChoate

                      Your comments are all that is required. You don’t want to hear any thing that upset your world view which put you squarely in the realm of Apostasy .

                      Only the wicked fear truth.

                    • Jon82

                      Fear is only a concern of right-wing neo-conservatives like yourselves. God is mercy and love. I have no fear of him or you.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      God is Just

                    • jacobhalo

                      We don’t hear the Catholic church saying that God is Just. It is all about love, love, love. This church has got be disgusted. The popes since Vatican II don’t have the guts of previous popes. We have to interpret what they say. When pre-Vatican popes and clerics spoke, you didn’t need to interpret them. Listen to Bishop Sheen and see if you have to interpret what he says.

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      I would say that God is Love and that Love includes Mercy and Justice. My point is that I believe it is a mistake to separate God’s Justice from His Love, then we are playing right into the hands of the liberal/progressives in the Church who think they are faithful Catholics. As Catholics we know it is always both/and. For others it is either/or and that ain’t Catholicism.

                • TheAbaum

                  So much for for working out your salvation in fear in trembling, eh Mr. Luther?

          • TheAbaum

            Churches are not tax exempt entities because they meet the requirements of 401 & 501, but because they are Churches and there’s this wall of separation thing…

            • jonnybeeski

              I’ve always understood it as churches elect the tax exempt status. I am more than willing to be enlightened – – this is your field, no? Perhaps when you have a moment you can bring me up to speed.

              • TheAbaum

                Anybody can elect to pay taxes and Churches could if they want to as well. There’s over 20 types of 501(c) exemptions, and Churches are classified as charities under 501(c)(3).

                They do not however, have the same requirements as other charities, which briefly, are to have an “exempt” purpose and not to allow prohibited “inurement” of earnings to individuals.

                The IRS has a fairly reasonable list attributes of what constitutes a Church,

                (a) a distinct legal existence,

                (b) a recognized creed and form of worship,

                (c) a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government,

                (d) a formal code of doctrine and discipline, (e) a distinct religious history,

                (f) a membership not associated with any other church or denomination,

                (g) an organization of ordained ministers,

                (h) ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies,

                (i) a literature of its own,

                (j) established places of worship,

                (k) regular congregations,

                (l) regular religious services,

                (m) Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young,

                (n) schools for the preparation of its ministers,

                (o) any other facts and circumstances that may bear upon the
                organization’s claim for church status.

                If an organization seeks exemption as a Church, this is what the IRS looks at, as well as the Tax Court or the U.S. Court of Appeals.

                The government doesn’t get to determine what clerics say, to do so would be a violation of the right to free exercise.

                Yes, I am “Circular 230″ qualified.

        • TheAbaum

          No, and it’s not your place to deny tax exempt status.

        • RufusChoate

          That is simply absurd. It is not illegal in any way. The only issue is the long used threat by the Left from the Johnson’s Administration to remove tax exempt status. The Left uses democratic friendly Church venues for campaign events constantly without issue and more frequently openly endorses Leftist candidates and policies.

          It certainly would not apply in this situation where a Priest instructs his flock that voting for a clear enemy of the Faith and an evil man would require confession.

          • Jon82

            See below; how a church may lose its status. That is my intent, perhaps the word illegal was not correct as Jonnyb has pointed out. Priests are not supposed to instruct on how to vote.

            • ForChristAlone

              he didn’t do that. what he did do was to tell people that if they were aware of his pro-death stance and voting record and for this reason supported him with their vote, a trip to the confessional was warranted. should a priest not warn his congregation against voting for a Hitler?

              • crossdotcurve

                You know you’ve lost an argument when you play the “Obama-is-Hitler” card. Truly pathetic.

                • ForChristAlone

                  I made no comparison between the two but I am happy that you did anyway.

                  My point, which is really not all that abstruse, is that any of us with basic moral decency would EXPECT our pastors and bishops to condemn the murderous acts of someone who sentenced innocent human beings to death. And here you can insert other names: Stalin, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, etc etc.

                  But since we’re on the topic of Obama and his support for partial birth abortion, would you kindly like to remind everyone here what exactly that procedure which he endorsed as an Illinois State Senator involves? Or it it too heinous for even you to contemplate?

                  • crossdotcurve

                    Since you can’t even own your own claims, there’s no point in engaging in discussion w/you. Next!

                    • ForChristAlone

                      I will interpret that to mean that even you find the procedure called partial birth abortion a heinous act of the lowest moral order. Thanks for the confirmation. And remember, your boy preached for its implementation.

            • jacobhalo

              Black clerics have politicians campaigning all the time in their churches. They don’t lose there status

          • TheAbaum

            It is absurd and wrong. See analysis below.

          • jacobhalo

            There is a double standard when it comes to white politicians and black politicians.

        • ForChristAlone

          when was the last time you went to confession?

        • Interested

          That is not telling anyone who to vote for. This is simple moral theology.

    • Sacerdos

      I guess on Crisis readers are worthy of the Eucharist!

  • Dan

    “Isn’t it about time for all the bishops to step up to the plate and declare, not just where the Church stands on these issues of life and love, but what precise sanctions exist in order to enforce the importance of what it is she believes?”
    Yes, it is about time for all the bishops, including the Bishop of Rome. Soft-pedaling on the part of the latter has substantially exacerbated the problem. He, whether he likes it or not, is the spiritual leader of the movement that stands against not only abortion but also artificial contraception and so-called “gay marriage.” He however has declared himself to have no interest in assuming his duty in this regard. Those of us thus who are fighting this fight are now doing so with a commander who has left the battlefield.

    • TommyD6of11

      Amen, brother, amen.
      Like our Cardinal in New York, I fear the Bishop of Rome cares more for public adulation than for taking on the burden of the cross. God will not be impressed by their popularity.

      • hombre111

        Ahh, a Cafeteria Catholic! A pope has arrived who does not hew to the hard line, and suddenly, enthusiasm for the authority of the papacy is on the wane in conservative circles.

        • TommyD6of11

          Hardly, Hombre,

          There is often, if not always, debates within the Church and with the Holy Father. Only rarely does a pope issue an infallible decree, indeed, most popes don’t issue any. Such disagreements hardly rise to the level implied by Cafeteria Catholic.

          • hombre111

            Actually, you and I agree about disagreement in the Church.

  • RufusChoate

    It is a sad commentary on the state of the Catholic Faith in America that when we praise a small handful of Bishops for doing the minimum requirement and consider it courageous. The failed leadership of the Progressives in the American Church have squandered its resources, the position of moral clarity and driven people to a widespread loss of faith.

    I have an example of the rot that permeates the Church in the Northeast. One parish that I attend has what appears to be the entire committee of the town’s elected democrats who are far left in positions of authority.

    Over the period of time when the controversies of Homosexual Marriage, Increased funding of Abortion and birth control, the attempt to remove the seal of confession from Priests, impose Lay control of every church and removing the statute of limitation on sexual crimes by Priests the Franciscan Priest stationed at this parish gave sermon after sermon on the moral depravity of the death penalty. The comical statistic is that in the 375 year history of this particular state it managed to execute only 137 people which is the same number of abortions done 6 hours statewide.

    • ForChristAlone

      Excellent. Could this be my former State of CT?

      • RufusChoate

        Yep, you nailed it.

    • TommyD6of11

      Great post.

      I’d try to guess which northeast state, but the truth is it applies to all of them.

    • hombre111

      Hmm. I looked up RufusChoate. Politician. Famous orator. Supported Webster’s Missouri Compromise. Some clergyman called him “Lucifer, Fallen Star.” And by his portrait, a real sour puss.

  • Elaine Steffek

    There is so much criticism out there of the bishops on a daily basis, thank you for recognizing and sharing when good bishops stand firm in the faith. They need thanks and words of praise as much as the rest of us!

  • JP

    There is another Bishop who has defended Church teaching, Bishop Jenky of Peoria. You won’t find a finer Bishop in the land.

  • http://eisbrener.info/blog Michael Eisbrener

    Calling it ‘punishment’ asking for a minimal public agreement to the requirements is a liberals way of thinking. Is it punishment to expect people to pay the price for what they buy, what they want? I know many do. There is a cost for everything. You either pay it in advance or you will pay later. That should not be a huge revelation. That Jesus paid the price for our salvation did not guarantee it. Luke 7:21

    • Jon82

      Holy Communion is not supposed to be a reward, but healing. Shame on you.

      • TheAbaum

        The healing takes place in the confessional.

        1 Corinthians 11:27

        Shame on YOU.

        • Jon82

          Yes and denying it is not your place, nor the bishops whom, many have not fulfilled their responsibilities to care for and prevent more victims of abuse. When these bishops do as much on this front as they purport to do on their soapbox agenda and Finn is fired, then we will have a Catholic Church of the US filled with justice and mercy as has been called for by Holy Father, Pope Francis. I corrected my shame on you, time for you to do the same. All in charity.

          • TheAbaum

            You don’t want justice and mercy, you want license.

            If it’s “not my place to deny”. it’s not yours to grant.

            But it most certainly is the Bishops.

            • Jon82

              Your picture says it all, huh?

              • TheAbaum

                So does yours.

              • TheAbaum

                So does yours.. oh wait, there’s nothing there.

              • ForChristAlone

                so when was the last time you went to confession?

          • ForChristAlone

            again, when was the last time you went to confession?

            • Jon82

              I go more frequently than most and since you keep asking, I guess I wonder: What business is it of yours?

              • ForChristAlone

                If you read the scriptures, we are to admonish one another. Your salvation matters to me. And since you are here anonymously, there is no risk whatsoever in your answering my question. You can either lie (to yourself) or tell the truth. I am happy to tell you that my last confession was on Friday after 8 AM Mass.

                • Jon82

                  Congratulations

      • ForChristAlone

        The Eucharist is not for those in mortal sin as to recieve it in this manner is to bring a death sentence to those who partake unworthily. BTW, when the last time you went to Confession?

      • HenryBowers

        If Communion is for healing, whence the etiology of the malady? Shouldn’t we point out the malady’s vectors?

  • soggysaguaro

    Excellent! I think this is the greatest crisis in the Church, not the priest scandal . When Bishops fail to teach, or fail to teach the truth, many people suffer the loss of faith. Christ said to go out and evangelize. Also, I think most Clergy underestimate the power of Holy Orders, just as most laity underestimate the power of Baptisim. They get authority but they do not trust the Holy Spirit or discern His gifts in their ministry.

  • ForChristAlone

    I know the very thing that will make those bishops from the protestant wing of the Catholic Church sit up and take notice. Simply drop a line to your bishop and tell him that henceforth you will be sending ALL of your monetary contributions to others bishops who do better at teaching the faith, governing as they are supposed to, and who sanctifying the faithful. Don’t mention the names of the other bishops as they will immediately become subject to vindictiveness. Let’s face it, the thing that most motivates the mediocre bishops is (as the song goes) “Money, Money, Money.”

    It’s also time for orthodox Catholics to send the name of priests you know who are orthodox to the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, asking that they be considered for elevation to the episcopacy. If enough Catholics signed a petition letter of this kind, my guess is that the Nuncio would have to at least ask, “Who is this man.” Remember that the reason why we have so many mediocre bishops is that the names of priests who are also mediocre have been submitted for consideration by these same mediocre bishops.

    • TERRY

      Good point, good point indeed. I have a friend whom I am trying to convert to the faith and in our conversations he has made the point that the history of the Church shows that change starts with the people.

  • TommyD6of11

    “The nature of the crisis they face is not a loss of faith, of belief, but of nerve.”

    I beg to differ … at least with regard to most of the Jesuits and several other orders of priests and nuns. They are not lacking in nerve. They have fully lost their way and are proud of it.

    Just one stunning example of this was last year when Fordham University, a Jesuit college, proudly invited rabid abortion advocate Peter Singer to speak. They lauded Singer as the “most important philosopher of our time”. Singer advocates for “abortion” up to age 2 years old … that’s right, infanticide. Because, as Singer explains, you really don’t know how well your baby is going to turn out until age 2.

    Fordham hosting Singer would be like Yeshiva University hosting Josef Mangeles.

    Fordham has not lost its nerve. It has lost its faith.

    • TheAbaum

      The Jesuit order is so thoroughly corrupted that it needs to be obliterated.

      There’s a reason people use the term “Jesuitical casuistry” with such contempt.

    • RufusChoate

      Don’t over look the other interesting tidbit of Singer’s complete moral depravity. He is the founding intellect of the Animal Liberation movement and has written extensively on the need to grant all human rights to animals because Humanity is an untrustworthy vehicle for Socialism.

      History tells the same tale about other morally deprave despots and tyrannical regimes who elevated animal right above humanity: Hitler, Stalin, Goering and many others.

      • TommyD6of11

        Singer believes that a person can have consensual physical relations with an animal; which reminds me of the famous cowboy song, “I wanna marry my horse but I can’t afford a bridle suit”.

        Seriously, Singer is bizarre, yet what’s even more bizarre is that nearly the entire Liberal world (i.e. all of academia) consider him the most significant thinker of our time.

        • RufusChoate

          He is really quite wicked and clearly understands the dimensions of power that he and the Left desire which is the anti-human core of Environmentalism.

    • ForChristAlone

      Blame Card Dolan. A situation like that warrants removal of the right to call itself a “Catholic” university. Dolan is supposed to be the shepherd and it is unacceptable that he just stands by and watches the wolves carry off the sheep.

  • Thomas

    Regarding denying the Eucharist….

    Once upon a time, I volunteered to help teach RCIA at my (former) parish. In fact, the pastor invited me to shut me up, I suppose, because I kept sending him emails trying to understand why he wasn’t teaching Catholic doctrine. He was, “a member of The Jesus Seminar.” So, I went and was asked to sit at various tables with the candidates and catechumens, and was not given the opportunity to teach on a topic. Strange–I teach kids for a living and had taught RCIA at another parish the previous year, even after some of us rebelled against the formation class provided by the diocese.

    One of the team members, a female Church activist and self-designated prison minister and former public school teacher-counselor, kept me in her gun sights upon my arrival on the scene. On the night she was to give her talk on Catholic marriage (she kept interrupting her poor, hen-pecked husband) and said, “I see you’ve brought your Catechism (of the Catholic Church) to check on me.” A few weeks after that, when the pastor said, “No Catholic politician should ever be denied Eucharist, even if they are pro-abortion,” she of course had to chirp in, “And you are not just being a renegade, father; it says in writing that nobody should ever be denied the Eucharist.” To which he replied, “I am a renegade priest.”

    As she spoke those words, her head craned slowly about until she could see me. And, I thought at that moment of the scene in “The Omen” where the nanny is using the rottweilers to protect the anti-Christ. No kidding. I was thinking of the nanny and the killer dogs.

    • ForChristAlone

      Get a letter off to the bishop and cc/ the Papal Nuncio.

      • Thomas

        It goes back to Easter, two or three years ago.

        Does anybody know if reporting confessional comments made by the priest–comments that go against the Catechism–is permissible?

        Also, is the above event worth anyone’s time? I didn’t think a bishop or auxiliary bishop would want to do anything about it. It’s that “priest shortage” thing that makes me wonder.

        I listed other things that disturbed me. Homily statements like “Saint Augustine invented Original Sin. As a Catholic, you don’t have to believe in it.” This guy liked to talk about Joseph Campbell (“The Resurrection was a clown act”), C.G. Jung, and a few other heresies. The guy really helped me, though. I had to stick my nose in a lot of books.

        Yes, the elderly, retired school teacher sure had a bully-like “I’m gonna’ ram my progressive ideology down your throat and if any of you Trads speak up I’m gonna’ treat you like a adolescent school boy.” Don’t worry, I pissed her off. Somewhere since Vat II, the Church got the idea that the laity should get more involved. Not sure that’s going to work properly half of the time.

        • RufusChoate

          I meet people in the church like this and can only attribute their insistence on staying Catholic to intellectual sloth and diabolic malice. They clearly don’t believe but they are too lazy to change because they like the unearned adulation and respect they get by their position. So much hubris and stupidity is hard to comprehend.

  • jacobhalo

    The pope has to preach to his flock and quote Canon 915. Preach it from the roof tops!

    • RickinMD

      Pope Francis’ responsibility is to preach the Sacred Scriptures, the Word of Life, the Gospel of Jesus Christ not Canon Law. Canon Law, while necessary, will save no one. The Word of Salvation, the Joy of the Gospel, can change hearts.

      But if he is to preach and quote Canon 915, will he also be allowed to include the sins of conservatives? Or will you only allow him to preach against the sins of the liberals, you know, the things you detest or that motivate you politically? This one sided argument against liberal wrongs without including conservative wrongs is simply detestable. There is no courage here, or among the bishops mentioned in the article above and the comments below. Regis Martin has done nothing more than provide a sad, worn out witness to the Gospel of Life. Sorry, Canon Law.

      • TheAbaum

        Everybody sins.

        Few people are a defiantly dedicated to sin and scandal as the political left.

        • Jon82

          In that humble conservative opinion.

          • TheAbaum

            Show me a Pelosi or a Biden of the right.

            Put up or shut up.

            • Jon82

              iiIii

              • TheAbaum

                Oh goody, you know how to raise your middle finger as you lecture us on justice and mercy.

                • Jon82

                  And shocking more than that is the fact that someone like you can read and write.

                  • TheAbaum

                    Right.. justice and mercy.

                  • jonnybeeski

                    1 Pt. 3:15-16

                    • ForChristAlone

                      By the way, jonnybeeski, if you see comments by hombre111 he will allege to be a priest of the Catholic Church. Do not, as a recent convert, allow him to scandalize you with his ideas as he is not representative of the priests in the USA nor of orthodox Catholic teaching. If you have any questions about the faith, consult with an orthodox priest.

                    • jonnybeeski

                      Thanks for the concern, FCA. I haven’t considered myself a “recent” convert for quite some time, though. I think you will find I am quite orthodox and won’t be scandalized. Hey, I can make it through the combox at the “bad” NCR, so here is no problem.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      Good! It’s great to have you aboard.

                  • Interested

                    Ah, Christian love.

              • TheAbaum

                Not even close.

              • JP

                Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich teach heresy? They advocate murder and call it virtue? They teach that slaughtering the innocent is Catholic teaching?

                • Jon82

                  Paul Ryan’s budget proposals hurt the most vulnerable. We are blessed he was not elected to the VP seat. And Gingrich….well, what can we say, let’s have an extra-marital affair while our wife is dying then run for President as pro-life and pro-family. Funny, I bet his late wife would not believe his pro-family.

                  • Interested

                    Yet, you support Biden and Obama? That is perverse.

                    • Jon82

                      and you know this because?

                    • Interested

                      By your words.

                    • Jon82

                      Really not important enough to respond.

      • jacobhalo

        Pope Francis’s job is to preach the Gospel and enforce Canon Law. Why have Canon Law if you are not going to enforce it? Pope John Paul II revised Canon Law in 1983. I would think that he wanted it enforced.

        • Interested

          Canon law is at the service is the Truth. Many do not like the truth.

          Simply put they do not want to stop doing what they are doing.

      • ForChristAlone

        hackneyed

      • Interested

        One sided argument? What is the other side? Kill and claim it is virtue?

      • hombre111

        Hang in there! The Pharisees will answer you, below.

        • Interested

          Look in the mirror.

    • hombre111

      The Pope has to preach to his flock and quote Scripture. Preach it!

      • ForChristAlone

        No, his job as bishop is to GOVERN which includes executing the law of the Church – including Canon 95 (in contradistinction to your boy in the WH who violates the law and his oath to execute the laws enaacted by Congress.

        • hombre111

          The bishop is first of all a shepherd. The shepherd’s staff ha a crook to bring back the wayward, but it is not a club. Jesus said, “feed my sheep.” Not, “bludgeon my sheep.”

          • ForChristAlone

            Now you sound more like Little Bo Peep. Your theology is highly advanced in that its based on the accoutrements of office.

  • crossdotcurve

    Someone is sure “obsessed with small-minded rules”…

    • Tony

      Yes, a medicine for the weak; not a self-approving custom for the obdurate, persisting publicly in grave evil, and hurting their fellow Catholics by their scandal. Sorry — if you are in that state, and you have been warned, and you receive communion anyway, you receive it to your condemnation. That is what Scripture explicitly says. Its reception is to be an act of love and submission, not pride and stubbornness.

      It is not a “small minded rule” for a Catholic to refrain from supporting people who snuff babies. It is not a “small minded rule” for a Catholic to refrain from supporting people who want to raise fellatio to the status of a sacrament.

      • Interested

        Very good. The Left rationalize away the Gospel. Or, as a wise old TV nun once said: ” this generation knows the social Gospel, it is the rest of the Gospel they do not like.

        • hombre111

          And the Right knows the anti gay screed, and the social gospel, they ignore and argue away into triviality.

          • ForChristAlone

            Are you gay? Where does this comment come from?

            • Interested

              Perhaps more than an academic interest? Just saying.

          • Interested

            He might be a priest but he ain’t Catholic.

    • Interested

      Which rules are small minded ?

  • crossdotcurve

    “The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”

    – Pope Francis, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church

  • m8lsem

    Once must still remember that the Church teaches ‘do’s’ as well as ‘don’ts’ … A Catholic who supports right to life, and opposes ‘gay marriage’, but ignores help for the sick and the poor, is still doing only part of his duty.

    • Interested

      Whoever “helps the poor” but rejects Jesus through his Church is a hypocrite.

      • hombre111

        Read the letter of St. James. Show me your faith, and I will show you my works.

        • Desert Sun Art

          A lot of people with no faith at all can do good works. The point is, doing good works is not an indication that one has faith in Christ.

          • ForChristAlone

            Absolutely correct. The United Way does more to help people than Hombre and they do not have the temerity to claim this as evidence of their faith.

            • Interested

              It is a type of false religion the pelvic Left worship.

              • ForChristAlone

                Love it: “The Pelvic Left.” Mind if I use it?

                • Interested

                  Please do but I stole it from others. I cannot take credit.

        • Interested

          You cannot claim faith while rejecting Christ. What you and your dissenting pals always assert is a falsehood. It is not this false choice of “helping the poor” or rejecting Christ by rejecting His moral Truth.

          Read Veritas Splendour and stop the propaganda.

          • hombre111

            Arguing with the Church about birth control is not rejecting Christ. I have read Veritas Splendour on several occasions. He tries to reduce the following of Christ to the Church’s teaching on birth control. Whew. And the conservatives, quick to take food out of a child’s mouth, or kill a felon, or go to war, think they are Christ’s true disciples.

    • Tony

      Your disagreement with a lot of people is not about whether to help the poor, but HOW to help the poor. You should look closely at what Pope Leo had to say about the emptiness of social programs or movements that are not founded in virtue, and that supplant the family. I give a lot of money to the poor, for what that’s worth. But the American government has financed the destruction of great segments of our society, robbing them of their manhood and of their family integrity, in exchange for votes. Read Pope Leo for starters. Begin with Inscrutabili, go to Quod Apostolici Muneris, then Immortale Dei, Sapientiae Christianae, Libertas Praestantissimum, then finally to the great Rerum Novarum. Catholic Social Teaching is centered upon the good of the family — which is of course destroyed by policies that discourage the formation of stable families, and that punish women who actually marry the fathers of their children.

      • m8lsem

        A great deal of time has passed since Pope Leo spoke/wrote on this point, and the world has changed a great deal as well. Leo was speaking to a world when the Robber Barons, so-called, ran the American economy. Walmart feasts off of public programs, paying its full-time workers too little to avoid their needing to have and receiving SNAP and other benefits. The robber of their manhood is not themselves, but WalMart. When CEO’s get hundreds of times what the median worker in their enterprise receives, it is the CEO’s in effect who are getting the public assistance.

        • ForChristAlone

          Yes, I can remember the last time the local manager of Walmart went out with a troop of armed men and rounded up poor people and forced them at the point of a gun to come work at their store. It was horrible to watch.

          I would encourage your entrepreneurial spirit to invest all that you own and go into debt to finance a business such that you will be enabled to hire employees and pay them the salary that you think they ought to receive. That would be a far more effective response to your version of justice than to advocate business decisions that would put places like Walmart out of business.

          I remember when I was a kid. My alcoholic father didn’t and couln’t work and it was left to my mother to figure out where to get some money to feed us kids. She took some evening employment doing piece work at a store front in our neighborhood that made dolls. She was paid a pittance and the sewing tore into my mother’s fragile skin. But if she were alive today, she’d tell you that she was glad she had that job so she could feed her kids. My father parenthetically criticized her for working for “slave wages” in a sweat shop while he stood home drinking beer. I knew at a tender age whose values I would be emulating.

          • LarryCicero

            Yes, and they force poor people to shop there, on Sundays no less.

          • hombre111

            Walmart didn’t need an army. All it needed was to help break unions and help force American manufacturing to go to China. Read the story of Rubbermaid for an example. Walmart’s business model: We will help drive wages down so far that our store with its low prices and shoddy merchandise will be the only place where people can afford to shop.

            • ForChristAlone

              Just remember that we pay your salary. We should have a system as they do in France of worker priests who must get a job to support themselves.

              • hombre111

                It would be a good idea to have a job. I could say what I want from the pulpit and to heck with the collection. I think you have the worker priest thing wrong, though. It was an experimental project that was going on when I was in the seminary. Roncalli opposed it. It was closed down years ago, because so many priests abandoned celibacy and got married.

                • ForChristAlone

                  You avoid addressing the point. Your speak out of both sides of your mouth – lecturing Walmart’s practices while surviving on welfare yourself. The people who work at Walmart have more dignity than you do. If you had any integrity at all, you’d foreswear your Church salary and get a paying job to support yourself.

                  • hombre111

                    Ahh, the old ad hominem, the desperate tactic of a man who does not know how to make a better argument.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      Don’t try this tactic. Get back to me when you finally land that paying job which you state would be a good idea. In the meantime, please refrain from lecturing those who work for a living.

                    • hombre111

                      ho-hum

                    • ForChristAlone

                      Hubris of the first order.

            • ForChristAlone

              Let’s close all the Walmart stores. You’ll be happier that all those workers can add to the gross unemployment figures that are the legacy of your guy in the WH and are forced on to the public dole.

              • hombre111

                Maybe the Walmart heirs, who did not earn their billions can sacrifice some of their annual take and give their employees higher wages, plus benefits. Workers would then spend the extra money, and our economy , based on consumption, would begin to improve. New demand, higher wages, new workers, improved economy.

                It is the Walmart business model that is killing us now. Pay the worker as little as possible. When more and more employers do this, wages go down, demand goes down, and you are on a downward spiral. One reason this recession is dragging on is because low wages cannot increase the demand that grounds our economy. My state is a perfect example, on a death spiral to the bottom.

                • ForChristAlone

                  You’re not an economist. Walmart pays employees the maximum it has to in order to maintain an adequate workforce to continue earning profits enough to motivate them to continue operating their business. But then again, its doubtful you know anything about running a business. How many people do you employ? Yes, I mean YOU – not the parish, church or anything like that.

                  • hombre111

                    There are books on Walmart and its business plan. I have read several justifications for W’s predatory practices, including the “adequate workforce to continue earning profits” bit. Odd to read that someone who lives for Christ alone would justify low wages that lead to birth control and abortion, because children cannot be supported on such a pittance.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      “would justify low wages that lead to birth control and abortion, because children cannot be supported on such a pittance.”
                      Your conclusion; illogically drawn as usual.

        • hombre111

          Amen! Said the people! You are casting pearls, but cast them bravely. You lived among the poor, as I did, and the world can never be the same again.

          • LarryCicero

            “Said the people!” You mean those people who freely choose to shop there?

            • hombre111

              Wages have been driven down so far, Malmart is the only place they can afford to shop. A Republican wet dream.

              • LarryCicero

                “The only place they can afford”-they would be better off paying more?

                • hombre111

                  Their wages are so low they couldn’t pay more if they wanted to. Malmart and McDonald’s teach their employs how to get on foodstamps and where the food banks are.

                  • LarryCicero

                    And the public schools, what do they teach?

                    • hombre111

                      They teach intelligent students not to bother with a non sequitur.

                    • LarryCicero

                      The public schools pay their employees better than the Catholic schools. Is their product better? My 1st grade teacher gets a pension of $82,000. How much should school cost? Should we have government stores or is it better to leave it to the private sector? How much should a loaf of bread cost? Is the state not your idol?

                    • hombre111

                      My sister taught fifth grade for most of her life, spending almost every summer upgrading to an MA degree and credentials in special ed and ESL, topped out at 60,000, My other sister spent 16 years in a Cath. school. All the most experienced teachers were fired to make room for cheaper, first year teachers. She took her contract to a lawyer, who read it and said, “essentially, this says you have no rights.” My sister then became a first grade teacher in the public schools, won teacher of the year, and topped out at 45,000. She continues to laugh about what she considered a great education when she taught in the local Cath school, which high graded its students and found ways to get rid of problem students. She discovered that Public school teachers were more professional and did a better job. In the meantime, the Cath school finally hired administrators with experience in public schools, and is improving.

                      How much should a private school cost? Wall Street is pushing for charter schools because they can double their money, paid from your tax money, in seven years. (New York Times). If you demand the right to pour your money down that rat hole, fine. Just make sure they have to follow the same strict standards public schools have to follow. In my state, home schoolers and charter schoolers get a pass. Of course, the result will be public schools forced to teach the poorest and most difficult students.

                    • LarryCicero

                      In my state, property taxes are the main source of funding the public schools. Yes, many of the teachers are better than those in the Catholic schools. How can the Catholic schools compete with the wages paid by the public schools and still have a tuition that parents can afford? Do the public schools teach the values that prevent people from getting into a situation where abortion is an acceptable alternative to adoption? Do they teach sex mechanics instead of morality? Why are the democrats and teacher unions opposed to competing on a level playing field? Catholic schools continue to close because they cannot compete with the government monopoly that is the public school system. I would think you, as a priest, could see that the Catholic schools would benefit from a free market and that society would benefit.

                      It is the same with stores. You kind find almost anything you want at all kinds of stores. You can get a loaf of bread at Walmart or a bakery. You can go to any number of stores to get a loaf of bread. But you pay for public education whether you use it or not, because it has been sold in the name of the common good. But it is a scam and is not in the interest of the common good. Charity suffers from high taxation. The schools should be teaching the kids so they have a real education and Walmart and McD’s jobs would be entry level and not for those trying to support a family.

                    • hombre111

                      Too many points to reply to at once, but thanks for some good thoughts. I agree with you about the shame of not supporting Catholic schools out of tax dollars. Catholics who send their kids to a Catholic school pay their share of property taxes, but their children are left out. In my state, the kids in Catholic school are even counted when a district is asking for its share of money. I think the big opposition here would come from groups like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

                      In my state, abstinence is part of sex education.

                      Charity suffers from high taxation, but please do not confuse charity with justice. When one out of four Americans gets some kind of help on food (yesterday’s NYT) something is gravely wrong with the structures that should offer Americans a chance at a decent life.

                    • LarryCicero

                      The tax should go to the parents to spend at a school, or on home school. It does not need to cover the cost. It could go to those who lack sufficient income to pay for their kids education. It should not matter if the school is religious or not, private schools should be able to compete for the parents dollars. Fr. Chaput has noted in his book “Render unto Caesar” the early beginnings of keeping tax dollars from religious schools-it was anti Catholic sentiment. The mechanics of introducing competition to schools is too much to get into.
                      Abstinence is the how, not the why- it is mechanics.
                      The fullness of charity is not accomplished through taxation. I won’t confuse charity with justice if you don’t confuse taxation with charity. If the one out of four number is correct, is it that they lack income, or that other costs of living are out of whack? Again, how much should a loaf of bread, or a gallon of milk, or a gallon of gas, cost? How much should an employer pay for labor? Depends on the type, no? Enjoy the day.

                    • hombre111

                      The history of Catholic schools is interesting. I am trying to pry out memories from twenty-five years ago, when I followed the subject, but if I remember correctly, in the early 1800’s, the Protestants boasted that they would use the public schools, in which the Bible was often the major textbook, to destroy the faith of Catholic children. In self-defense, Catholics began their own schools. And so, they began as part of the Protestant-Catholic conflict. Catholics also were strong on separation of Church and state, and played some role in that argument, as well.
                      After the bishops began to argue that freedom of religion was in danger again, I began to read, once more, John Tracy Ellis, who is probably still the best voice on the subject. I wish we could dialogue about his “We Hold These Truths,” and see what is the same and what is different after sixty years.
                      In his first chapter, he says some things that are interesting, and alarming. A great discussion about Natural Law as the source of Americana democracy, accepted by consensus, and very amicable to Catholic thought. Then he talks about Catholic consensus, and notes, “It has been a …blessing that the American Republic never put to the Catholic conscience the questions raised by the Third Republic (after Napoleon). There has never been schism within the American Catholic community, as there was among French Catholics, over the right attitude to adopt toward the power of the state.”
                      But this schism is happening today. Roe Vs. Wade began the split. Now, Catholics have to oppose the state, and mostly, we stand together on this. But I think that the argument about birth control has created huge division that might not be worth it in the long run. I think it has also distorted the traditional Catholic consensus about the meaning of Natural Law. An argument about whether or not a sperm duly docks up with an egg is supposed to endanger the family? Not the families I know. But the hard right sees these people as sinners on their way to hell, and so the schism is on.

          • ForChristAlone

            You’re my hero (not).

    • Desert Sun Art

      Why the assumption that one who supports right to life and opposes ‘gay marriage’ is ignoring the sick and the poor?

    • hombre111

      Preach it!

      • ForChristAlone

        Time to take your medication, Father.

    • Desert Sun Art

      Why do you assume those who support life and oppose ‘gay marriage’ ignore the sick and the poor?

      • ForChristAlone

        I support life and oppose gay “marriage” and spent 5 days this past week in Guatemala exploring ways to help the poor there. Don’t be an idiot muslim.

        • Desert Sun Art

          Ummm, why did you say this to me? Did you really read my comment?

          • ForChristAlone

            sorry, my comment was intended for muslim….we’re on the same page, DSA

            • Desert Sun Art

              No problem, I realized that and was going to edit mine, but then I couldn’t find it.

  • m8lsem

    And while we’re ruminating, if as I’ve been told over 90% of all abortions are motivated by poverty, or by fear of resulting poverty or loss of access to education, or both, then the defunding of the very social programs scorned by the right-wing and defunded as fast as they can, amounts to pro-abortion legislation.

    • Interested

      Whomever told you that was a leftist.

  • m8lsem

    FWIW, John XXIII is the reason I became Catholic, and Frances is cementing that relationship with the Faith. And I am a retired Pastoral Associate who had the privilege of working in a church on an Indian Reservation where poverty is a perpetual reminder of the mission and teaching of Our Lord Jesus.

  • m8lsem

    Our Holy Father:
    “The Good News is no mere matter of words, but a testimony to unconditional and faithful love: it is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others, being close to those crushed by life’s troubles, sharing with the needy, standing at the side of the sick, elderly and the outcast.”
    Help the poor, and thereby end abortion.

    • Interested

      Plenty of rich people abort. Plenty.

    • ForChristAlone

      The Church has done more to help the poor than any other institution that has ever existed in history. And now, after all this help, dear Holy Father, we have 50 MILLION dead babies to our disgrace just in the United States alone. Now let’s see, pretty much every country in Europe, Russia and China (with its one baby policy) condones abortion. Can we estimate that among these, there have been another 200-300 MILLION more innocent and defenseless human lives that have been destroyed? And now, Holy Father, in the face of this crime against humanity, you want us to help the poor. I am sorry for the disrespect, Holy Father, but you just don’t get it.

  • Nutz4seabrook

    So in your model of Church, the roles of Bishops and clergy are to be enforcers and bouncers. And in the extreme, you suggest weaponizing the Sacraments. Now let me ask: Where in the Words and ministry of Jesus Christ when was he a bouncer or enforcer? And where did he weaponize anything?

    The role of Church is to help us understand our faith; how to faithfully live our lives and what Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection; and, ministry did for us and calls us to do. At the end of the day, our Salvation will be judged by God when we stand before the pearly gates and hope we get in. It won’t be determined by Burke and his cronies, or bells and smells, talking in Latin, or the return to the Baroque Era.

    It seems to me what Francis is doing is what his namesake was called by God in the post Reformation Church – rebuild my Church and to preach the Gospel – use words if you must.

    • ForChristAlone

      “So in your model of Church, the roles of Bishops and clergy are to be enforcers and bouncers.” Please instruct us where the author stated this.

      • Interested

        The Left likes fantasy and propaganda.

    • Thomas

      What do you think Jesus meant when he said these words to Peter?

      Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. 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. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

      • Nutz4seabrook

        I am not going to engage in war a biblical quotes, but I know thistle has two major themes. The Old Testament is filled with stories judgement and God’s power and might. The New Testament is a message of mercy, love, and forgiveness where Jesus presents a new Commandment to love one another as much as God loves you.

        Therefore, his Church is influenced by the OT, but it should be governed by the NT.

        Your model, IMHO has no place in a Christian Church. It wants to create, punish and enforce rules. The Church Francis is calling us to acknowledges we are sinners, but teaches and inspires us how to live the good life and shows us the way to follow Christ. It is a Church of hope, forgiveness, and redemption.

        So you can dwell on the Canons on the Church and judge and punish all you want. I will take the power of love and mercy.

        • Desert Sun Art

          Umm, not that familiar with the OT are you? God is also shown as the loving Father, trying to save the Israelites over and over from themselves and their foolishness, just like a parent looks after their children. At times discipline is needed, not to show power, but to teach their children what is right.

          Your opinions about the Church and what some of us here believe are irrelevant and quite frankly, wrong.

        • Thomas

          I do not think you know what my “model” really is.
          I would suggest referring to what I wrote about BOTH mercy AND the need for a constant awareness of the damaging, life-threatening effects of the reality of sin. If you ever get the chance, go to a 12 Step meeting. There, you will find souls who know these effects all too well. These people don’t want a religion that lets them feel comfortable in their sin; they want help getting out of it. I do not believe the posters here are judgmental; they understand the beauty and truth of the teachings that have been handed down since the beginning, and they know that the Church has been guided in its formulation of these moral or legal truths. It has become all too chic to now go around spouting, “mercy, mercy” without also saying “control thyself.”
          And, you most likely would agree with that. You most likely do not welcome sin. We “hardliners” aren’t all about judging and punishing. Personally, I accept what people like you say when it comes to mercy and compassion; it’s the part about throwing out the rules for the sake of being merciful that I think is misguided. So, here’s what we all need to do: know that Church teaching and mercy are not mutually exclusive.

        • Daniel

          Though I have some sympathy with the claim that the particular interpretations of the bishops here might be questionable, I think you WAY overstate your case by arguing against rules. There is a huge danger in overemphasizing rules, but that does not mean that “creating and enforcing” rules is a bad thing. A good rule is an expression of love — though surely the rule cannot communicate love *on its own*, without personal engagement and compassion.

          There’s no conflict between having rules, and teaching and inspiring. As any good teacher will tell you, you can’t teach and inspire without rules.

          • Nutz4seabrook

            You are right. We need rules, however, I object to the notion people like Burke and the author of the blog talking about weaponizing the Sacraments. It is wrong on so many levels.

            • Thomas

              Help me if I am error, but this is how I see it.

              Do you believe if one is in a state of mortal sin they should be permitted to receive Holy Communion, which is the only Sacrament I can conceive that people will say is “weaponized?” If I have committed a mortal sin, the priest might not know about it, so the only thing that stops me from receiving is my own conscience, informed about mortal sin. Please explain to me how this is weaponizing the sacrament.

              Also, please critique my reasoning about why I agree with the existing policy(?) on this. My understanding is that no one should be denied the sacrament, but a bishop can withhold it in some instances, e.g., where an elected member of a legislature votes in favor of abortion. Would not the legislator be in opposition to, or, not in communion with, Church teaching on the sanctity of human life?

              I’ve posed two questions. Please explain to me how I am in error.
              Thank you!

              • Nutz4seabrook

                If the Church wants to excommunicate someone, it has the power to do so. Since this has not been imposed in most cases, you don’t know what goes on in the Confessional Box or with a confessor. And because Confession is a protected conversation, I presume s/he has been forgiven.

                Let me ask you an equally ‘sinful question’? Should Bernie Law and other Bishops and Cardinals who knowly allowed and moved around clergy who abused children be excommunicated or prevented from ministry? I presume you would agree sexual abuse is a mortal since and anyone who knowingly did what the ‘boys’ did committed a mortal sin.

                • Nutz4seabrook

                  I have never heard Burke say a word about this. Could it be he committed this crime when he was a bishop in Wi and SL?

                • Interested

                  You really should learn the faith before making such silly arguments. The confessional is not the issue. Public and manifest sin which causes scandal is the issue.

                  If you think some prelates have not been punished as you desire that has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

                • Thomas

                  Previously, you spoke about “weaponizing” (sic) the Sacraments, by which I understood you to mean the Eucharist. I do not detect your answer to my questions about that, nor have you defended your arguments.
                  Instead of answering my questions, you change the subject by bringing up excommunication of bishops who mishandled cases of sexual abuse.

                  If you cannot answer my question without switching the subject, then the poster above, “Interested,” is correct about you.

            • Interested

              Propaganda terms. You are a propagandist.

              • Guest

                No, the history shows a…

    • Thomas

      I would think that Francis and his namesake are and were, well, “loyal sons of the Church.”
      That means this: in the call to be loving and merciful toward others, at no time are the doctrinal messages of the Church any less true. To be a Christian requires not just the head or just the heart, but both.

    • Interested

      Are you Catholic? Your understanding of theology is embarrassing.

  • Daniel

    As a Detroiter, I found Vigneron’s statement lacking in precision. We ought to make a distinction between promoting gay marriages within the Church — which is apostasy — and saying that gay marriages should be allowed by the law of the land. The second position would be equivalent to saying that an action that is wrong should nevertheless be legal. (Aquinas thought this about various actions, like lying, for example, and many Catholics currently have this attitude toward sodomy — that it should be legal, even if it is wrong).

    My personal position on this is that a central goal of legislation is (as Robbie George puts it) “making men moral”. So I think that gay marriage ought to be illegal. But it is possible for people to have different views on the purpose of government — especially in such a morally toxic environment where people are given propaganda to the effect that “it’s wrong to impose your moral views on people.”

    My point is not even that support of legal gay marriage can be reasonable — I’m not at all sure about that. My point is that people are allowed to receive communion even though they hold various unreasonable views, including this one — though not if they promote apostasy or have separated themselves from God.

    • Interested

      Aquinas gets misused on this issue. Homosexual unions are evil. They are a threat to the common good. There is no right to evil. The State has an obligation to protect the family. A serious obligation. Promoting this grave evil is not a matter of prudence. The Church has said clearly Catholics must oppose such legislation. To disregard such a binding command is serous matter.

      • Daniel

        My point was not that supporting same-sex marriage can be done in good conscience. I am inclined to think that it is always sinful — at the very least presumuptuously sinful. The question here is whether it is a mortal sin, or whether Vigneron’s instruction is based on some other standard. Having read through Canon law on this point, I am not sure what clause Vigneron is citing — unless he is adding something to the law (which may be his right, so far as I know) or he considers holding certain opinions to be a mortal sin.

        • Desert Sun Art

          Are any of these bishops declaring anything a Mortal Sin or are they saying these things are serious/grave matters? I think all the Bishops can and are saying is what constitutes a grave matter and that faithful Catholics should not hold these opinions/beliefs as they are contrary to God and may be mortal if they have full knowledge and consent of the will.

          • DE-173

            Mortal Sin. Grave Matter, Full Consent of the Will, Adequate Time for Reflection.

          • Daniel

            Yes, grave matter is the issue. But it is not generally taught that false beliefs about secular laws constitutes grave matter. In the case of abortion, however, I think it’s pretty clear that supporting intentional murder constitutes grave matter. It might be less clear in the case of gay marriage, simply because the law allows straight couples who intend to commit sodomy to marry.

            My hope would simply be that the Church clarify what the conditions here are. People should know what criterion is being used to determine unacceptable beliefs, so that they know what the Church is asking of them.

            I know people who are open to faith, and who embrace Catholic positions on sexual morality, but who are not yet convinced that it is the prerogative of the government to forbid gay marriage. My concern is that we make it very clear to them why the line should be drawn where Vigneron is drawing it.

            My personal belief is that social marriage has already become unrecognizable, and that this situation has very little to do with gay people. I would be happy if the Church considers withdrawing from the practice of recognizing social marriages as sacramentally valid. Even so, I oppose legalized gay marriage, since legal norms are ways for us to educate children about what is good and right. (Legalizing gay marriage is not dissimilar, for example, from legalizing pornography).

        • Interested

          I assume his instruction is based on theology and on Vatican directives which bind in this matter. Not sure why there is any question at all?

          • Daniel

            I would merely like to hear what theology he’s appealing to, and what directives.

            • Interested

              Well the Vatican website has this for a start:

              “CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE
              FAITH
              CONSIDERATIONS REGARDING PROPOSALS
              TO GIVE LEGAL RECOGNITION
              TO UNIONS
              BETWEEN HOMOSEXUAL PERSONS”

              It explains the theology and that we are to oppose such things.

              • Daniel

                Thank you, that was helpful. One line stood out to me: “In those situations where homosexual unions have been legally recognized or have been given the legal status and rights belonging to marriage, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.” This is a much stronger call and direction than we are hearing from the pulpit, which is disappointing. It is actually quite a striking statement, very much in line with the sort of statements the early Church made.

                There is certainly a huge gap between the Vatican and the laity on this. My prayer is that they get the word out.

                (One key problem is that many Catholics are Rawlsian in their political philosophy. The document you mentioned clearly and unequivocally opposes Rawls.

    • HenryBowers

      We have no reason to make homosexual marriage illegal if we first deny that it’s even possible.

      • Daniel

        Surely a “covenant between a man and a woman capable of one-flesh union” isn’t possible for two people of the same sex, but syllables can always be redefined, since language changes. The metaphysical reality of marriage can’t change, but its political meaning can. Hence the Church’s effort to stem the tide of legalized gay marriage.

  • Nutz4seabrook

    Let me clarify and address the points made by others. First, I believe using the Sacraments as a weapon against believers is a sin. Why? If God has decided not to be present in Communion because He judges the person unworthy – that is his “job”. We are all sinners, so I don’t think it our place to judge on behalf of God. Second, when I read the Sermon on the Mount, which I do often, Jesus presents to us “rules” that are unlike what the Old Testament. For example, he tells us to love another as much as God loves us! Our challenge is to figure out – how do we do this? The role of the Church, thru words and deeds is to HELP and GUIDE us by deepening our understanding of the Gospel. Third, while the Church was created and inspired by Jesus, it is still an organization run by human beings – all men! Over the centuries we have repeatedly seen less Christ in the Church and more humanism. The sexual abuse crisis is a classic example where the men who ran the Church were human and failed, in all ways, and did not act Christlike AND, IMHO committed mortal sins. When JP2 refused to meet with those were abused was wrong and sinful. Fourth, I believe the Church is more Christlike when it operates like a Welcome Center and not like a Club House. Fifth, Francis has it exactly right. He is trying to bridge the divide among all Christians because he recognizes that Jesus calls us to be “one”. And until we are one, we will never succeed in bringing the Gospel to the world. As Bishop Tony Palmer recently said – Diversity (among believers) is divine, but it is division (among believers) that is diabolical. All this stuff – and more – shapes my faith.

    I know the orthodox among you will got nuts, but what makes us Catholic – UNIVERSAL – is our common beliefs which we recite every Sunday in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds.

    The Moravians – a pre-Reformation Christian Church – have a very simply but powerful statement of their faith “In essentials unity, non-essentials liberty, but in all things love.”

    • Nutz4seabrook

      Let me add two links – The first is the Tony Palmer/Pope Francis talk http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5TwrG8B3ME

    • Nutz4seabrook

      My question to all of you who may agree ore disagree with my view of faith is: Do you disagree with Francis, and why? And certainly you believe God knew and knows what was and is in the heart, mind, and soul of the Pope – and thought it was good and just that he called Francis to lead us.

    • Interested

      You have substituted your private religion for Catholicism. The Church is not some ideology that you define on your terms. Either you accept that Christ is the authority behind His Church or you make yourself the authority. The folks here bind themselves to Christ through His Church. They do not make up doctrine or reinterpret it to fit their ideology.

      The current Pope is a son of the Church. He cannot, and will not, change any teaching.

      • Nutz4seabrook

        No, I have not and yes he is. I posted – and they they appear to not be on this blog – two things. The First was Tony Palmer/Pope Francis speaking to Evangelicals. The second was Francis’ interview in America. I suggest you aquatint yourself to these and what our Holy Father is saying.

        I used the metaphor of a Welcome Center. The Pope uses the Field Hospital when talking about the Church. He says better than I can quote or state the role of the Church is to heal souls and care for the faithful.

        I think you will also hear what the Holy Father says what are the essentials.

        I think you should also read the accord on the Vatican website between the Church and the Lutherans on the matter of Justification.

        Finally, I am a follower of Christ and being a Catholic helps and guides me to live my beliefs. I don’t believe the Church is and has been always right. It was wrong for it to burn people at the stake. It was wrong for it to align itself with dictators in Central and South America. It was wrong to ignore the sexual abuse crisis. It was wrong to lie to Jon Hus. It was wrong to sell indulgences. All these actions and more have been taken by the Church using your argument. But the Church has redeemed itself from these transgressions when leaders like Pope Francis, St. Francis and others bring us and the Church back to the core teachings of Christ – to love one another as much as God loves us.

        I want to be part of a Welcome Center and Field Hospital Francis is leading us to become. You can have your Club House. You can fight over the rules and who is in and out. I will strive to live my life according to the Sermon on the Mount, with Christ and the Church helping me.

        • Nutz4seabrook

          Now I ask you: who said the following “”This pope is not a liberal pope. He is a radical pope!”…”This pope goes back to
          the Gospel.””

          Hint: He is the Pope’s Theologian!

      • Nutz4seabrook

        And what do you say to this, by the Pope? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5TwrG8B3ME

        • Desert Sun Art

          I saw this video some time ago, but what does this have to do with Interested’s post above? You either accept that the Pope along with the Hierarchy of the Church has the God given authority to preserve and impart the teachings of Christ, including binding and loosing, etc., or you become your own pope. In spite of the sinfulness of her members, the Teaching Magisterium is protected from error when teaching on matters of faith and morals.

          • Nutz4seabrook

            I am not my own Pope. I am not up for the task and I love Francis.

            What the post has to do with your point and the other person’s point is that when get down to the basics, the Gospels and Creed are the essentials. I believe in both. I also believe – and this is core element of being Catholic – that reason and Free Will gives the Church the ability to be on the search for revelations – God speaking to us. Whether you like or not, we don’t know if all the Teachings are free of errors. We might believe that, but we don’t know. That is why it is called faith. So the constant challenge is to test their validity through serious scrutiny and analysis – and by listening for God.

            We must remember the Magisterium Teachings only came about 800 year ago. The conversations about them began during the Middle Ages – led by men. St. Thomas Aquinas was at the forefront of these conversations.

            • Desert Sun Art

              And yet the Church says that Revelation is complete. Teaching can develop or be better understood, but there is no new revelation to be expected from God with regard to the Faith. We also have it on faith and trust in God that the teachings of His Church are free from errors so that we do not have to be in the dark- He wants us to live in the Light of Truth. You claim to be Catholic, and yet, like so many today, you do not believe or trust that the Church is what it claims to be. It is not simply a man-made organization as you would like to believe, but also divine as well.

              As to your last comment about Magisterium Teachings only coming about 800 years ago, please cite your sources for that, since Church history shows otherwise. Thanks.

              • Nutz4seabrook

                How in God’s name can anyone say that God’s relevation is complete. That is amazing. I don’t know God’s mind. Furthermore, we acknowledge that tradition is a critical part if Church teachings-so we can’t have any more traditions emerge?

                Lastly, check your Church history. The doctrine of infallibility is very recent.

                • Desert Sun Art

                  From the CCC:

                  There will be no further Revelation
                  66 “The
                  Christian economy, therefore, since it is the new and definitive
                  Covenant, will never pass away; and no new public revelation is to be
                  expected before the glorious manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”28
                  Yet even if Revelation is already complete, it has not been made
                  completely explicit; it remains for Christian faith gradually to grasp
                  its full significance over the course of the centuries.

                  67 Throughout
                  the ages, there have been so-called “private” revelations, some of
                  which have been recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not
                  belong, however, to the deposit of faith. It is not their role to
                  improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to help live
                  more fully by it in a certain period of history. Guided by the
                  Magisterium of the Church, the sensus fidelium knows how to
                  discern and welcome in these revelations whatever constitutes an
                  authentic call of Christ or his saints to the Church.

                  Christian faith cannot accept “revelations” that claim to surpass or
                  correct the Revelation of which Christ is the fulfillment, as is the
                  case in certain non-Christian religions and also in certain recent sects
                  which base themselves on such “revelations”.

                  Also, doctrines are defined when they are challenged. You need to check your history, the Early Church did believe in a hierarchy that was guided by the Holy Spirit in matters of the Faith.

                  • Nutz4seabrook

                    I am certainly glad human beings have made clear to God that he needs to shut up and behave. How presumptuous of God to think he is all powerful.

                    You should also read what you posted. The Church fathers have given themselves wiggle room on the matter – Revelation has not been made completely explicit. What is the process of making explicit? And what happens if the more explicit revelation tweaks a previous one because the old statement didn’t benefit from the new understanding?

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      I would recommend a change of attitude and perception. God has given authority to the Church hierarchy to protect and teach His Truth. You should be asking these questions to God in prayer and maybe He might open up your mind to a better understanding of Him. Ask Him sincerely in prayer to show you if His Truth lies in the Catholic church and if the Holy Spirit guides the teaching authority in it. Then stay open to what He may show you.

                      If there is no God given central authority, then who decides what is true? You are doing exactly what you accuse the Magisterium of doing. If they don’t have this authority, you certainly don’t either.

                    • Nutz4seabrook

                      I am not questioning that Pope et al have the power to make rules and enforce them. And I recognize that God has given to each of us Free Will. I have chosen to be and remain a Catholic. With this said, I have the right and the responsibility to debate and challenge what the Church says and does, just as I have the right and responsibility to support what it says and does.

                      But the reality is the church is runner by sinners. We are all sinners. The Pope says he is a sinner. In other words, Church is run by humans. Look at Bertone, who had a key job under Benedict in shaping the Church. He is building a lavish 6000 sq foot condo and will have three nuns waiting on him. He allegedly shoveled from the Vatican Bank to pal who spent the money and never repaid it. It is very difficult for me to accept the fact that he would be presiding and participating in matters of faith.

                      The Pope who lied to Jon Hus that he would have safe passage to defend his teachings, then threw him in jail upon his arrival at Constance and burnt him at the stake was acting like a king.

                      The point is there is a self appointed system of men – not Gods – which have given themselves the power, by its interpretation alone, that they are divinely inspired to make the rules. I don’t doubt the presence and influence of the Holy Spirit, but humans are still human.

                      Fatima is perfect example of how the system was rocked by a revelations of Mary. The boys have been wrestling with what the kids said they saw and heard and the results – vis-a-vis Church teachings – have been as clear as mud since the occurrence.

                      Lastly, I raised the most important question about our faith: why did Christ die on the Cross? The boys have not been particularly clear on this critical matter. Why? The Bible has three accounts, while similar, have very different interpretations.

                    • Desert Sun Art

                      The Church is full of sinners. The Jan Hus situation happened when we had anti-Popes and much confusion. God does not guarantee the behavior of those in the Church, only the teachings on Faith and Morals. To say that you have a right and duty to question these teachings is an error. You can question the behavior of those in the Church, realizing that we ourselves are not perfect either.

                      Your disdain for Church leadership is clear. I myself am fed up with some of our Bishops, though we would probably disagree on who and why. But I have never posted or spoken disrespectfully or so vulgarly about any of the Bishops who do anger me the way so many on the left do in comboxes.

                      As to your last paragraph, the differences in the accounts of the Crucifixion are small, in my opinion, and considering that they were written by different people over the course of several decades, the fact that there is so much similarity is striking. Be realistic. If 4 people were to write about an occurrence based on different eyewitness accounts, you are not going to get all 4 accounts to be exactly the same.

                    • Nutz4seabrook

                      I have no disdain the Church’s leadership. I respect them and their position. However, they put their pants on the same way I do and suffer from the human condition as the rest of us. I don’t speak for others, but the implication of the blog that started this series of posts paints a less than flattering picture of those who don’t conforms to the authors norms.

                      First of all, I am American and believe I have a God given right to Free Speech. Second, as a Catholic I believe I have a right to express my agreements and disagreements with the Church. I feel I can say that women should be ordained and lay out the reasons why. But, I understand the line that I cross has consequences if I attend a Mass said by Women Priests.

                      Lastly I am looking beyond the text, I am talking about the theology of Atonement. After 2000 plus years, the Church’s position on Atonement is not very clear. And of all the theological issues the Church deals with – it cannot speak on one voice why Christ died on the Cross.

                      Hus is merely an example, which has sadly been repeated too many times in the Church.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      I stand corrected. I know longer believe that you are a kumbaya Catholic. My guess is you are about 19 y/o.

                    • Nutz4seabrook

                      I think it funny and ironic that claim to know a Church law and like, and profess to be a Catholic – but your approach to debating and discussing our differences goes personal with name calling and like.

                      I am glad to debate the issues, but I am not to engage in personal remarks. So, I will be signing off. If you wish to have an adult conversation, I am delighted to reserve.

                      You see, I subscribe to this motto… In essentials, unity; non-essentials, liberty; but in all things, love.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      It is unfortunate that you have been so influenced by the emotionalism of the 60’s Church – a Church where far too many became the final arbiters of truth. But I am happy that, unlike so many, you have remained with the Church. I know you prefer to “debate” Church teachings – that too is part of the 60’s culture – but we must humbly submit to Church teachings and not debate them.

                  • Nutz4seabrook

                    I also did not say there wasn’t a hierarchy in the early days, but the notion of the a Magisterium and all that is associated with it did not emerge until 800 years ago or so. Check your history.

                    Let me ask a seemingly important question: why did Christ die on the Cross?

            • ForChristAlone

              No, the Gospels and the Creed are NOT the essentials. The Scriptures, Church teaching (as found in the FULL catechism (i.e. not cherry-picked) and the Tradition are the essentials. Where did you learn the faith?
              You are so poorly informed that I would encourage you to spend more time reading orthodox sources before spreading YOUR gospel, The faith is truly beautiful when you are humble enough to accept it in its entirety.

              • Nutz4seabrook

                The Creed is a summary of our beliefs – and a pretty good one at that.

                I admit I am not a trained theologian. However, I am not going to defend to you or anyone my education, training and reading, which are not inconsequential.

                My view of Church is expressed by Francis. You must hate him

                • ForChristAlone

                  No, I do not. I give him the respect his office deserves since his vocation is a critical piece of the magisterium of the Church. But I do not hijack every word he says to support my own version of what I think the Catholic faith ought to be teaching.

        • ForChristAlone

          now let’s all join hands and sing kumbaya.

    • ForChristAlone

      Tony Palmer is not a bishop. Second, when the Church calls for “unity,” She is not referring to your syncretistic nonsense. She is referring to a unity in faith. Let me guess your age: 60 and up. Sounds like you’ve been infected with the kumbaya Catholicism of yesteryear which as we all know is a fatal disorder.

      • Nutz4seabrook

        He is a bishop in the Anglican tradition.

        You are right about my age.

        You are wrong about my desire to look backwards and to my hippie days. In fact, unlike the bells and smells crowd who want the Church to Baroque era, I want to move forward as Francis has expressed. His interview in America spoke to me. And his actions and words since that interview have continued to speak to me.

        He sees that the Church faces serious problems. Fewer people in the pews. Fewer priests leading churches. Bishops and Cardinals seeing themselves as monarchs. He sees the devide between our Christian brothers and sisters as a sin and wants to bring us closer together in order to bring Christ’s message to those who have not heard it.

        I do think the Latin Mass is arrogant. With this said, on my daily walk I listen to the Gregorian Chant station on Pandora.

        • ForChristAlone

          Right the first time – a victim of the 60’s culture.

          • Nutz4seabrook

            You were right about my age – ONLY. I am not a victim of anything. I don’t engage in victimization. I have life experience that has shaped me – just as you do. GOOD BYE!

            PS – get a life. Posting at 1:30 in the morning is not a good thing. we all need our rest to fully enjoy the blessing God has bestowed upon us.

            • ForChristAlone

              I actually work from 3-11 and so this is the equivalent of your “evening” hours. But you are observant – albeit selectively.

        • ForChristAlone

          Oh, and by the way, we do not recognize apostolic succession of the Anglicans – that is, if one is a Catholic of one mind with the Church. I once met a man in the South of France who checked into a hotel with an entourage of self-styled clerics. When I inquired who might their pivotal person be, I was told “pope so and so.” I did not walk away and say to myself, “oh, I have met the pope today.”

  • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas R

    Thank you, Dr. Martin, for this article. Your observations here are painfully obvious, but need to be said and loudly. And more often. Maybe a sense of responsibility – or of shame – can bring about change, and greater fidelity to the sacred office.

    I remain puzzled with the question, Why? Why are so many bishops happy – it seems – with being mere managers and administrators, when the need for shepherds and teachers is so great? What would bishops have to lose, by being strong defenders of revealed truth?

    • ForChristAlone

      Notice what the Holy Father said yesterday about priests (alco include bishops) needing to be pastors and not CEO’s of NGO’s. He added that they should follow Christ’s example by living lives of sacrifice for the flock. How many fit this bill? Not too many.

MENU