The Church of Nice vs. Christ Crucified
Pope Francis’s appeal for the Church not to focus exclusively on moral issues does not mean that the American bishops have to change their priorities in the public square, Cardinal Timothy Dolan has said.
Speaking to the American Catholic News Service, the president of the US bishops’ conference said: “What he’s saying is that if the perception of the Church is of a scold who’s always nagging and always negative and always fearful, we’re not going to make many converts, because nobody wants to join the Church out of fear or [join a] a paranoid group.
“If we emphasise the positive, the gracious, the embracing, the warm, inviting side of the Church, then we’re going to attract people,” he said. “And that, of course, is what Pope Francis is saying and doing on steroids.” More > DD's Dicta ;- ) \\My question is... whether the Church should base its mission and evangelization on sensitivity to secularist and liberal "perception" or whether her mission is to witness unrelentingly to the Gospel of Life - to protect, defend and promote life, as JP II exhorted us in Evangelium Vitae.
Of course, one would like to answer ... "both"! Can't we be "positive... embracing... warm" ... AND also relentlessly call out those who attack human life, who crush freedom of religion, who degrade the family and KILL human life at its most frail and vulnerable stages? Of course we can. But the Church has and always will be accused by those who hate the Church and her teaching as being "negative... nagging... scolding...". Our Catholic Church, especially in the U.S. suffers not from a lack of being accommodating and welcoming but from the opposite ... we suffer the empty Churches, declining Mass attendance, split vote on pro-life issues, lack of vocations and abuse crisis in the Church because of a gross lack of catechesis and the lack of fortitude to stand firm and loudly for the TRUTH. We are hated for our teaching on contraception, abortion, marriage, euthanasia because these are precisely where people experience an impact of the Church's teaching on their personal lives. So they complain. Understandably.
I believe it is wishful thinking to suggest, as the Cardinal does in the article above ... citing Pope Francis ... that the solution is to be found in being even MORE warm, positive and embracing ... to what end? What does that mean? Are we not teaching the intrinsic evil of contraception with a wide enough smile? Should we picket abortion mills with happy faces? Human nature has a strong inclination to go along and get along ... to not disrupt our perceived peace and just wish people would come along with the Church's teaching after some laughing and back-slapping. Whether the truth is presented amicably or with solemn resolve or with a bit of righteous anger ... people will either accept or reject the truth based on their being challenged with Christ and Him crucified for the forgiveness of sins.
There is just something wrong with the notion that we need to somehow be responsive or reactionary to the "bad press" or the name calling the Church receives as being "negative" or "scolding". Remember the guy who said, "Woe to you scribes and pharisees, you hypocrites..."?? Was Jesus perceived as too negative? Hmm. He made some people pretty mad at Him. In fact, if you are a good enough Catholic Christian, you will eventually be persecuted and maybe killed for it. If you are not suffering some kind of rejection or contradiction in your life from others for your beliefs, you are probably not living the Gospel as intensely as you should. They are called martyrs. Jesus also commanded us to "love one another". So, authentic love must be more than warm feelings and being positive and embracing. As St. Thomas Aquinas says, love is "willing the good of another" for their own sake, without expectation of reciprocation of that love. In fact, one should love with a readiness to suffer for it or be misunderstood, as Christ was. So, this is why it is wrong to adjust or change the message and approach of the Church when the truth preached in love ... is rejected and in return, the Church receives labels and persecutions from the media and secular world.
That all being said, I am also not saying the Church consists in one constant din of apologetics. The Church's mission is carried out with balance -- witnessing with lives that are loving and sacrificial. Our main way of preaching the Gospel is through the lives we lead every day and through being faithful to prayer and penance, for we need the latter to live our lives in union with Christ and bear fruit that will last.
Hence, what is needed is not a "warm approach" per se, though there is nothing wrong with that ... it is accidental (non essential) to the correct understanding of the Church's challenge and mission today. What is needed is a bolder and louder proclamation of Christ crucified... the mystery of the cross. To address SIN in the world and its ugliness, while authentic love - which sacrifices self for another - is the key to happiness. The "hot button" issues are not being preached or explained enough! Yet, ironically, the message we are hearing is that we talk about the intrinsic evils perpetrated against human dignity too much? Beam me up, because I'm not on the same planet. I don't think St. Paul... if he were here, would think that the right medicine for the Church today is more warmth and embracing with words that soothe and feel good... but rather a dose of cold water in the face, saying "wake up from your sleep!" Rather, he would say what he said to the Corinthians: "When I came to you, brothers proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with sublimity of words or of wisdom. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:1-2)The Church simply needs to witness to Christ crucified, boldly proclaiming the truth in love, and not worry about the opinions and labels the secular world puts on us. Peace+ DDG
The "Government Shutdown" Reveals a Government Out of Control:
Priests Risk Arrest for Offering Sacraments to Catholic Troops During Shutdown
(CNSNews.com) – Some Catholic priests under contract or GS (general schedule) to the military are not allowed to offer the Catholic sacraments--including saying Mass, consecrating marriages, or performing baptisms--on military property during the government shutdown, and if they do, even on a volunteer basis, they risk being arrested, according to the general counsel for the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA. More > DD Dicta :- ) \\The so-called "government shutdown"... first of all, is a shutdown of only about 15% of the government. Yet, it is almost never referred to as a "partial" shutdown. People are under the impression that government is basically closed (oh, but I could only wish!!) What I don't understand is why the military and fractional cost services like national parks and WWII memorials are being shut down, while apparently EPA, Dept. of Energy and Dept. of Education and other non-essential agencies remain partially open.
Meanwhile, we see stories of Catholic priests who contract to provide services on military bases being forbidden to even volunteer to come and baptize babies of military families, say Mass for military personnel or provide anointing of the sick. What kind of totalitarian mentality would impose such restrictions? Are we Americans really at the point where our government would arrest Catholic priests who would come provide time-sensitive sacramental care? Such restrictions and persecution clearly violates the Free Exercise of religion, protected by our Constitution. But what is so disturbing is that there are apparently so many in the administration and government service that will actually obey and enforce such directives from their superiors in government. This marks the increased hostility to religion in our country and also the primacy and absolute power our government continues to assert and exercise... seeing individual rights and religious rights (which imply free thinking, not beholden to unjust dictates of a socialist regime) as a threat.
In addition, you will find stories of how the WWII memorial in Washington, DC is closed for viewing. Yes ... people are not allowed to walk up to the memorials and pay their respects... even war veterans who are on trips which may be their last to DC in order to pay their respects at the relatively new WWII memorial. In South Dakota, Mount Rushmore is not only closed but even roads near Rushmore have orange cones placed to prevent drivers from pulling over to even view or take pictures of the monument. This reveals the irrationality and chaos of a government out of control. We need to wake up - as Catholic and as Americans. Our dignity, liberty and religious practice continue to evaporate before our eyes ... to what end? Universal health care? A welfare state? Green energy? Indoctrination in public schools? Homosexual behavior equated as a civic good and recognized as "marriage"? The administration admits over 13 million will remain uninsured and without health care. So much for taking care of everyone's health care needs. We have more poor and unemployment in our country than ever, yet we have never dumped more money into welfare than today. Our government does not care about the needs of the poor, but securing as many dependent voters as possible for their own power. The HHS mandate forces Catholics to violate their consciences and support intrinsic evils, threatening the existence of Catholic health care (who are the ones who invented hospitals). Common Core is pushed in our public schools, along with immoral lifestyles and perversion of history. So-called alternative lifestyles are extolled as "normal" and others are increasingly coerced to accept and affirm such lifestyles or face penalties. Religious symbols and expressions of faith in public are torn down and restricted on a daily basis, thanks to bogus law suits and legislation asserting "separation of church and state", when in reality, such actions are a violation of the Free Exercise of religion.
All of these things... while political and civil in nature ... affect our lives profoundly. As Catholics, our faith must show in our actions and our understanding of basic human dignity and rights that the natural law expounds and our Declaration of Independence extols: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. If we allow our natural law rights to be trampled, our ability to worship God and live as we will ... shall soon be obliterated. As Catholics, we as a Church must wake up from this comfortable slumber we've slipped into since the 1960's, and more strongly assert Catholic social and moral teaching in our families, workplaces and civic duties - voting and speaking out for our beliefs and rights. In addition, let us pray for the grace and mercy of God to be upon us and our country. Peace+ DDG
What Are the "Small Minded Rules" Pope Francis Mentions?
If you google "Francis" and "small minded rules" you will see a myriad of articles in the media that are gushing with praise for the Holy Father finally seeing the light about the moral teaching of the Catholic Church being "small minded rules". However, there is only one problem with these gushing secular relativists in the media ... if you read the interview HERE... you will see the context of the quote. Pope Francis does not elucidate in any way... what he means when he says "The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all." Now, there is cause for some critique of the Holy Father on this comment, because it has left a wide open door for those who wish to attach "small minded rules" ... to any moral teaching or regulation that they do not like in the Catholic Church! Even in the surrounding discussion of the interview, there is no particular focus he makes on doctrine of the Church. It is in the context of pastoral care - of emphasizing mercy and balance. Here is the rest of the quote after his statement about "small minded rules":
"The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds."
As you can see, the context here is that the Pope is looking for balance between scrupulosity and laxity. To be "small minded" about rules and regulations in the Church means to not understand their connection to Christ and His New Law of Love. This is not a love that is selfish or indulgent, but the love of the cross... sacrificial, self-donating love which is not based on emotion but to will the good of another. Of course, the Holy Father has no intention to obscure Church teaching. As I note in my earlier blog post below ... he does not see love trumping doctrine, because both are merely different manifestations of the same love, the same God. Just as the human person's intellect and will must be engaged in every moral action, so too love and truth are necessary for correct moral action. Also, Pope Francis has spoken out strongly against abortion and has reaffirmed that he is a "son of the Church" and these doctrines cannot and will not change.The problem we are seeing in the media is somewhat elusive to define. It is good that the Pope is very popular and often quoted ... yet he seems to mostly focus on things that are focused on pastoral direction, love and mercy ... even a healthy introspection aimed at Church leaders. The problem is that we don't want the popularity of the Pope to be based on a false interpretation of his comments, which admittedly have fallen short of clear definition on a number of occasions. The Holy Father enjoys papal infallibility but of course, this does not mean that he cannot say something that is either confusing, unclear or even incorrect or imprudent. Hence, this is not a challenge of Pope Francis' fidelity to the Church or authority. I do think that the myriad of articles around the world clearly manifest (unprecedented), grave misinterpretation of Church doctrine and direction ... and requires some adjustment or balance in the Holy Father's comments and emphasis. Peace+ DDG
Love and Truth : Interpreting Pope Francis
DDG Homily 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
“No servant can serve two masters… you cannot serve both God and mammon.”
Our Gospel focuses on the downfall of attachment to worldly things – particularly money, but also any created thing other than God can become “mammon”. Jesus points out we cannot be divided in our hearts – we cannot serve two masters… God and wealth… or in other words… self!
Jesus expressed this truth in another, similar way when he said: “Blessed are the pure of heart” (not just chastity but also to be single-hearted) God himself must be the goal and end of every one of our actions… all of our decisions… not wealth, power or pleasure.
How can we ensure we are serving only one master? The right master, so that we might be saved? St. Paul tells us: “God wills all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” … that truth is the “One God, one mediator .. Christ Jesus”. The Person Jesus Christ, the Son of God described Himself as the “Way the Truth and the Life”. His commandment to us is to love. But if we are to love authentically, he tells us we must “keep [his] commandments”. (Jn 14)
From this we see the critical relationship between LOVE and TRUTH, which must always inform and animate one another. We must come to the knowledge of the Truth handed down by Christ through His Church and we must follow Christ’s commandment to love one another. If we do this, we will be single-hearted, putting God first and loving Him before all else, as he calls us to do today.
Remember that Church teaching on faith and morals IS Christ’s teaching! Christ did not compromise the truth, but spoke it boldly with burning love in his heart … even if it offended those around him. The Doctrine of the Church on abortion, contraception or homosexuality … is no less loving than Christ’s command to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. All of our actions either lead us toward or away from God’s will.
What is love? Not feeling/emotion or patronizing – it is to will the good of another without desiring reciprocation. This means correction in charity of one straying is most loving thing, even though no one wants to hear it.
What is truth? The truth is a Person, Jesus Christ. And the truth is objective – it is what it is whether or not we agree with it. Truth is not subjective, based on our own opinion or desires (this is the error of relativism). We must form our consciences to the truth as revealed by God through His Church.
What is critical to understand is that authentic Love always leads to Truth and Truth to Love.
Here is an application that I think is very pertinent to us today in the Church and our civic life: Pope Francis has made many comments, almost on a daily basis, since his elevation to the office of Peter … emphasizing the need to focus on love and mercy, not condemnation. In addition, he has warned that we ought not focus on doctrine to the exclusion of merciful love.
Francis and the Church always presume dogma is immutable and changing it is not on the table. This was also the approach of the Second Vatican Council. It was a pastoral council, not a doctrinal one that was going to look at changing Church teaching. It was asking the question of how can we make the Church’s witness more effective in a dramatically changing world?
Given that, Francis focuses almost exclusively in his comments and teachings on how we can be loving and merciful in our lives so as to attract others to our life in Christ “people of the way”. As Christ said, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Jn. 13:35) However, the Pope is also warning those who are zealous for ensuring Church doctrine is promulgated and adhered to … to not forget about the importance of authentic LOVE, which should be the starting point in reaching out to the lost sheep… not hammering them with the mallet of Truth. Love is the goal and guide to Truth.
This is being interpreted in the media and by relativists as “softening” or perhaps even discounting Church’s teachings on our moral life in Christ.
For example, a news article on a major network last night led on the front page saying: "Catholics around the world may be especially tuned in during Sunday's homilies, following Pope Francis' bombshell interview in which he urged the church to take a softer line on the hot-button issues that have become increasingly polarizing in recent years...The statements were hailed by liberal Catholics as the latest evidence that Pope Francis could lead the church to a new age of tolerance toward abortion and homosexuality."
Just to be clear – this will never happen, nor does Francis advocate or want this to happen. One of his most recent comments on abortion came a few days ago when he said: “Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who, even before he was born, and then as soon as he was born experienced the rejection of the world.” The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.’
I have NEVER read such widespread interpretations of a pope's statements as being a retraction or repudiation of magisterial teaching in my lifetime. Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI statements were almost never interpreted in this way, even by the liberal media.
The Pope is often misunderstood or willingly misconstrued because Pope Francis is emphasizing love and mercy. He is not emphasizing doctrine, but he has only reaffirmed Church teaching when he does touch on doctrine. The popular and secular culture want to see love redefined as whatever you wish it to be or whatever feels good … not subject to responsibility or self-sacrifice in other words, truth. The Pope speaks of love and mercy as a pathway to open minds to the truth of the Church’s teaching on intrinsic evils. Again – “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. Notice our Lord doesn’t say it is by your teaching that they will know you as my disciples… but by your LOVE.
If the Pope speaks of authentic love as Christ loved, this is the way he has discerned that he will lead the lost sheep back to the fold! Some are uncomfortable with this approach because it is being misinterpreted as signaling a change in Church teaching.
The secularists and relativists take the Pope’s comments about reaching out in love and mercy… and presume there is no implication of Truth.
The point is that Church doctrine and orthopraxy (the living out of one's faith -- viz. Christ's New Law of love) … Truth and Love … are not mutually exclusive. Because Pope Francis is not speaking the language of doctrine and condemnation … many wishfully believe he is repudiating doctrine. This is to not understand Catholicism or Pope Francis.
"Church teaching" has as its final cause... as its end... love (caritas, agape). If we get Church teaching wrong, we will never love rightly. If we fail to live out the Church's teaching in love, we are hypocrites.
Let us not set authority and bold, uncompromising truth... against love and mercy as if they are contradictory. In fact, the Catholic view is they are complementary. Doctrine and merciful love are as necessary as love is to truth and truth is to love.
All Church teaching leads to a divine Person… Jesus Christ, GOD … who IS LOVE! Perfect Love and Perfect Truth! Peace+ DDG
Cardinal Burke: Nancy Pelosi ‘Must’ be Denied Communion ... Is This a "Disciplinarian Solution"? What Would Francis Say??
LOUISVILLE, KY, Sept. 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) - In a wide-ranging interview, Cardinal Raymond Burke has issued an emphatic call for pro-abortion Catholic politicians like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to be denied Communion.
The cardinal also spoke about the rapid advance of the homosexual agenda, the decline in catechesis that, he says, has crippled the Church’s response to pressing moral issues of the day, and the growing danger of Christian persecution under an increasingly “totalitarian” government. More > DD's Dicta :- ) \\
This is an excellent article which elucidates the importance of recognizing the authentic meaning of charity. It is not charitable to ignore or "welcome" in the church those who obstinately oppose her teaching, especially as Catholics. Cardinal Burke is calling us to prayer and fasting, which is almost unheard of these days, but it is as relevant as it is necessary today. He cites a failure in catechesis since the 60's and notes the great risk of our government becoming increasingly totalitarian. From this, he says, persecutions are sure to follow. It seems increasingly true that, as Fr. Hardon once observed, that simply living faithfully the teachings of the Church in our culture today... requires heroic virtue. At any rate, what Cardinal Burke illustrates in the article above, is that dogma and orthopraxy (the living out of one's faith -- viz. Christ's New Law of love) are not mutually exclusive. "Church teaching" has as its final cause... as its end... love (caritas, agape). If we get Church teaching wrong, we will never love rightly. If we fail to live out the Church's teaching, we are hypocrites. Let us not set authority and bold, uncompromising truth... against love and mercy as if they are contradictory. In fact, the Catholic view is they are complementary and both as necessary as love is to truth and truth is to love.Take all of these observations in the article now in light of the almost daily articles about Pope Francis' statements about various aspects of the faith. Abortion, gay marriage and contraception: "It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. ”. On homosexuals: "It is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person... It is necessary to accompany them with mercy." On the Church's moral teaching: "We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards...". On orthodoxy: "Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,' those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists-they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies." On dogma of the Church: "The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently." But ... to use Pope Francis' own lingo ... "who am I to judge?" What do you think? Are the Pope's comments building up or tearing down? Are they providing answers and direction or causing confusion? Are the liberals he wishes to reach out to... interpreting his comments constructively or using them as ammunition to hurl at the Church? Here is an example of how these comments are taking effect. FOX News article just posted reads: "Catholics around the world may be especially tuned in during Sunday's homilies, following Pope Francis' bombshell interview in which he urged the church to take a softer line on the hot-button issues that have become increasingly polarizing in recent years...The statements were hailed by liberal Catholics as the latest evidence that Pope Francis could lead the church to a new age of tolerance toward abortion and homosexuality." Check out the article HERE.I have NEVER read such widespread interpretations of a pope's statements as being a retraction or repudiation of magisterial teaching in my lifetime. Pope John Paul II nor Pope Benedict XVI statements were never even remotely interpreted in this way, even by the liberal media. In addition, this is not an occasional line here and there from Francis, but almost a daily dose of commentary that is (not unreasonably) being interpreted as a capitulation or "softer line" regarding intrinsic evils which have destroyed and are destroying souls and our civilization. Pope Francis does not intend this, but the reality of the effects of so many confusing comments... speaks for itself. The dogma of the Church will not change, nor does Francis want it to. I support and love our Holy Father. The daily rush of cardinals, bishops and priests... scrambling to "explain" what Francis really meant or put it in context ... speaks for itself. We need to speak the truth in love, backed up by orthopraxy in our daily actions. Peace + DDG
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Do U.S. Catholics Have To Agree With Immigration Reform and USCCB?
Of late, the United States Council of Catholic Bishops has been very vocal in its support of the latest version of immigration reform moving through Congress. It is making a particular push this month, even urging pastors to speak to the issue from pulpits.But are the Catholic faithful in America required to heed the bishops' call and get behind the legislation?
No--and many believe the leadership of the USCCB, which doesn't necessarily represent the views of every American bishop, has exceeded its teaching authority--its mandatum docendi--in supporting a specific piece of legislation, regardless of news reports to the contrary. More >
DD's Dicta :-) \\
This article posted in Breitbart gets to an important distinction in Catholic teaching ... namely, that the question of immigration reform is not a matter of faith and morals and is an area where reasonable minds may differ on the question. In fact, I remain puzzled regarding the intense interest shown by the bishops in this legislation. Yes, human dignity must be respected. But to make the inferential leap that respecting human dignity means you must support the current immigration reform bill as written ... to grant amnesty to those who entered the country illegally, while others did so through proper procedures, is not something Catholics are bound to do. Indeed, there are many, if not most ... bishops who do not agree with the present legislation on the table. The same argument goes for government budget allocations ... increasing welfare allocations and government spending is not something advocated by Catholic teaching. The point here is that how government behaves in matters that are dealing with intrinsic evils and/or matters of faith and morals such as abortion, euthanasia, religious liberty, homosexuality, embryonic stem cell use and research, sterilization ... require clear enunciation and elucidation by our bishops. We have seen this most recently with the unanimous stand of the bishops against the HHS Mandate. However, matters like immigration reform are prudential judgments where Catholics can differ. Peace+ DDG