Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Amerika sounds more and more like Pravda every day

FrZ hit a bullseye with his response to the editorial in America magazine. The heterodox dissidents who hold Charles Curran as their patron saint for his dissent to Humanae Vitae are now applauding the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Barak Obama as Commencement Speaker and awarding him an honory doctoral degree. While many of us who are loyal to the Magisterium lament the decision of the USCCB not to censure ND, we do not follow the Protestant tendencies of our opponents. Yes, the prudential judgments of our bishops are not infallible and they are open for discussion. IN FACT, only when there is a UNANIMOUS statement on faith and morals from the episcopal conference does it have binding teaching authority and it is only infallible IF and WHEN it coincides with previous papal or conciliar decrees or when it receives a recognitio of the Apostolic See and the Holy Father gives his imprimatur as authentic. Yet, even when it is only a document or decision of the USCCB, orthodox Catholics are not the ones who openly attack and disingenuously impute motives on our bishops. We are not the ones who flagrantly show disobedience as well as disrespect. The dissident on the far left, the heterodox disbelievers, are the ones who defame the brave bishops who openly chastized Notre Dame. Those who dissent from the Church's teaching on contraception, abortion, euthanasia, women's ordination, divorce & remarriage, same sex unions, et al., THEY are the ones who show open rebellion and disobedience.

Ironically, the lefties want open dialogue to find 'common ground' to enable them to have cozy chats and excellent photo-ops with those who repudiate Catholic doctrine and discipline. They will not tolerate nor dialogue with SSPX or anyone who appears too traditional or too conservative. They rebuked the Pope for lifting the excommunications (while he did not normalize the clergy, i.e., the priests, deacons and bishops) on the Bishops illicitly ordained and consecrated by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. Paradoxically, they do want the Pope and bishops to dialogue with pro-choice/pro-abortion politicians and with all kinds of dissenting Catholics (Call to Action, We Are Church, etc.)

Don't get me wrong, the SSPX has a way to go but they seem more amenable to reconciliation and there appears to be more possibility and probability with them than with those who adamantly insist abortion is not intrinsically evil. While the SSPX was disobedient and the illicit episcopal ordinations not only excommunicated their bishops, it also created a schismatic atmosphere and climate which B16 is hoping to heal. He does this as Roman Pontiff with supreme, full, universal, and immediate authority (in doctrine and in discipline). Nothing can rationalize nor justify disobeying the Magisterium or defying the Pope, whether SSPX or CTA.

What FrZ aptly points out in his article is that a missed opportunity took place. The American Bishops AS A WHOLE could have stood together, brother to brother, side by side, and rebuked and discipline Notre Dame. They would have been making a public support of life, especially the unborn. No need to make any character assassination of the President. We can repudiate his pro-abortion and anti-life policies without resorting to ad hominem arguments. Nevertheless, the crime was on the ones who invited him to speak, namely Notre Dame. As FrZ reminds us, our bishops missed the chance once before when they could have made a UNITED condemnation of slavery, segregation and racism when the Civil Rights Movement needed it most. Some brave bishops spoke out against these immoral injustices and condemned those who would consider and treat African-Americans as anything less than fully human and endowed with all human rights. All our bishops are pro-life and many have publicly denounced the election and appointment of openly pro-abortion candidates and politicians. Reprimanding Notre Dame would have been a pivotal moment for the USCCB.

But the votes were not there and the majority of bishops made a prudential judgment not to do what many of us begged them and pleaded them to do. Yet, we still respect and obey them. We do not deny their lawful authority as defined and delineated in canon law. We pray for them. But we do not attack or humiliate them. Remember when Noah's sons found him passed out drunk and naked? THEY were rebuked by God, not Noah. They showed no discretion or honor or respect. We could easily follow in their footsteps if we openly attack and show disrespect for our hierarchy. At the same time, we need to vigorously remind our opponents that COMMON GROUND is only found in the TRUTH. Rosa Parks did not dialogue with the bus driver who told her to go to the back of the bus. Martin Luther King, Jr., did not dialogue with the governors who ordered the fire-hoses be turned on innocent protesters.

President Obama made it clear that there are some issues, like abortion, where he sees no compromise. He is right, in that regard. You are either pro-life or you are not. Just as you are either anti-segregation or not. You are either a racist, or you are not. How can there be dialogue when the answer is clearly black & white? People can argue systems of goverment and economy since not one is perfect and flawless. Morally speaking, something which is evil is immoral and that is not changed by time, space or circumstances. Situational ethics and Consequentialism are not valid ethical systems.

Peaceful, non-violent protests are always permitted if not highly warranted. Negotiation with Hitler only encouraged him to move more quickly and powerfully to initiate WWII. While no one is accusing anyone of being a Nazi, the ideology of Nazism is as offensive and is as evil and immoral as is abortion since both have no problems unjustly killing human life. Those who fool themselves and deceive themselves into tolerating or even allowing abortion are like those white people who tolerated slavery and segregation. They were WRONG. They may not have been evil people but they permitted an evil to continue.

Maybe, after some time in prayer, the USCCB will reconsider and issue a reprimand at their plenary session in November. We can certainly pray for that. And we can pray for our bishops and show them our respect even when we may disagree with their prudential judgments. At the same time, we should not dilute or distort the moral teachings of our religion. Negotiating implies areas of compromise. We can never accommodate moral principles. It is not the message that needs to be changed, for it cannot as it is base on the Natural and Divine Laws of God. We can, though, adapt the way the message is presented and explained.

Unlike territory, reparations, and treaties countries can and often must negotiate to end a war and bring about peace, what can never be on the bargaining table is the RIGHT TO LIFE. If the enemy refuses to accept your right to exist as a nation and a people, then there can be no dialogue. If, however, the other side agrees that you have an inalienable right to exist, then where you live and how your borders and security are defined and established can be worked out by diplomats. The unborn have an inalienable right to exist and we cannot deny them their human rights even if the mother has chosen to ignore or deny them. Society must protect its most innocent and most vulnerable citizens. The unborn and the terminally ill are just that and they are the targets of abortion and euthanasia. What can be dialogued about that? Were African-Americans willing to accept the so-called compromise that guaranteed them only 3/5 citizenship (with 2/5 being alien)? Of course not. Slaves did not accept anything less than FULL 100% (5/5) citizenship. Yet, the unborn babies in the womb are treated as partial or even as totally non-citizen status.

America magazine would better serve the Catholics of America if it spend its time and effort defending the unborn and encouraging all Catholics to speak up and speak out against immoral evils like abortion and euthanasia and to defend the sacrament of marriage as a permanent, faithful and fruitful union of one man and one woman. Tactics and strategies can be debated but the moral law is immutable, especially when it concerns human rights.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


As our nation celebrates Fathers' Day and we honor dear old Dad, let us not forget our other two fathers, Saint Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church and Head of the Holy Family, and our Holy Father, Pope Benedict (whose baptismal name is also Joseph, in case anyone forgot).

When I was a newly ordained Priest, less than a month (the oil still wet on the palms, as they say), my beloved Dad, God rest his soul, sent me my FIRST Father's Day card. Inside he wrote how proud he was to be my Dad and how unworthy he felt to be the father of a priest. He also said that he was confident that I would love and take care of my spiritual children just as he tried to do all the years I was growing up. And even though I would always be his son and he would always be my loving dad, he was honored to be able to call me "Father John" now that I was a priest.

Although that card got a little stained from a few tears, I never forgot the message or the sentiment, especially when my dad died in 1998, ten years after my ordination.

Back in 1988, some of us more traditional guys used a maniturgium to wipe the sacred chrism off our hands after being anointed by the Bishop who ordained us a priest. Custom was to give the linen to your mother who would keep it for her burial as a sign she was the mother of a priest. Me and Father Brighenti did that as many of our predecessors before us. My dad teased me at the First Mass when I gave my mom the maniturgium and he asked "and what does the father of the Father get?" to which Father Bob Levis, who vested me replied "you get the bill for the reception."

Nowadays, newly ordained not only maintain the custom of giving the maniturgium to their moms, they also started a new custom of giving their dad a purple stole. The newly ordained priest would hear his first confession using this new stole and present it to his father just as he would give his mother the linen used to wipe off the sacred chrism. I wish that custom had been around twenty-one years ago when I was ordained. Nevertheless, I did sneak a small purple stole into my dad's coffin before the funeral. It was not my first purple stole but it was from my first anointing of the sick set.

As the YEAR FOR PRIESTS gets underway, let us pray to good Saint Joseph that he will protect our Holy Father as he protected the Virgin Mary and the Christ-child. Let us also pray that all priests will seek to emulate Saint Joseph and stay close to Our Divine Lord and His Blessed Mother.

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