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More on John Allen, and our good Bishop! February 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese.
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The reason for the John Allen article I link to below was an address Bishop Farrell gave at the University of Dallas last May.  In it, the bishop decries what he sees as a tendency towards too much confrontationalism in the Church. 

Culturewarnotes does not agree.  I haven’t got much time to comment now, but go give Steve a read.

I will say this.  For many years, UD managed to retain a strong, orthodox Catholic identity amidst a maelstrom of secularism and dissent.  In 2001, the former bishop of this diocese managed to change the direction of the University into something more “mainstream” (his word).  The former Bishop had worked with the then University President, Msgr. Milam Joseph, into changing the climate at the University to such an extent that many of the best, most orthodox professors left.   There was alot of publicity about making UD more like Notre Dame or Georgetown, places where the Catholic identity is increasingly incidental.  Alot of alumni fought back, and something of a compromise was reached.  UD is still listed as a relatively solid, orthodox Catholic university, but it is in sort of a rear-guard fight to stay that way.

So, when Bishop Farrell gives the commencement address there, he’s walking in a potential minefield.  Rather than say something, he chose to say nothing: “no theologian, or professor or pope, has ever had or ever will have all the answers to what it means to be authentically and fully Catholic.”  Well……I think we’re all aware of that.  Although, I would like to think that a Pope like St. Pius X, or Pope Gregory the Great, or even our own Pope Benedict XVI, has a greater lock on what it means to be Catholic.

There are many people in this diocese who would very much like to see UD go the way of a DePaul or Xavier – that is, to be more in the ‘mainstream’ of the progressive dominated collegiate theological scene.  It would have been nice to see a very forceful defense of the University and its mission.

He was probably thinking of me February 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in foolishness, General Catholic.
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I know that the thoughts I type on this blog probably annoy some people.  They may do far more than annoy.  But, I think there is a need in the Church today for voices that may not have been heard too well for some time.  And, if I sound strident at times, that is probably driven by my intense concern for the Church and the souls of the faithful therein.   That, and I’m just a jerk.

John Allen of the National Catholic Dist Reporter has coined a term for folks like me – Catholic Taliban.  Well known Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin at National Catholic Register takes pretty strong umbrage with this, and so do I.  Look, I, and others like me, may be considered by some to be lacking in charity and to have a narrow, dogmatic view, but using an incendiary term like ‘Catholic taliban’ is a joke.  That says one of two things – one, either John Allen doesn’t have a clue as to the bestial nature of the Taliban, or he has a visceral disgust for those on the traditional side of the divide in the Church that borders on the manic.  I don’t see traditional Catholics forcing their women into burqas, keeping their daughters illiterate, cutting off heads, or blowing up people because they don’t like Latin Mass.  It’s a pathetic, cheap comparison. 

It’s also ironic.  While he was decrying what he feels is the overly-incendiary language of those Catholics who strive to uphold the Truths of their faith, Allen was using some of that same language himself.  

One more thing: how illustrative do you think it is that when Allen refers to those who disagree with huge swaths of Church doctrine, from the need to confess one’s sins to the ordination of women to the inherently <evil> nature of abortion, he refers to those folks as ‘Catholic lite,’ whereas those who try to support and defend the timeless teachings of our Church as being ‘Catholic Taliban.’  Sure, Mr. Allen thinks some Catholics go too far by jettisoning large parts of their faith, but those on the other side are nothing more than a bunch of judgemental, uncharitable, hate filled holier than thous. 

C’mon John, tell us what you really think!

Update on USCCB imbroglio February 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, scandals.
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  Michael Voris of Real Catholic TV has a video update from the weekend concerning the USCCB funding pro-abort groups.  It’s worth watching, at least for an idea on what the latest news is.

I think Voris takes  a pretty strong stand, but I know where he is coming from.  I am very concerned at what looks to be the USCCB funding for pro-abort organizations – that would be a great tragedy, and scandal.

Very interesting commentary on the future of Christianity February 8, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Society.
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I found this article at First Things  to be very thought-provoking, and I agree with some of the suppositions presented.   As I have often related, I come from a protestant background.  Episcopalian, to be exact.  My parents are still in the Episcopal church, and it has pained them, and me, to see the ongoing dissolution of that fabled American church.   The First Things author, Mary Eberstadt, sees something more substantial happening:

Even so, it is the still longer run of Christian history whose outlines may now be most interesting and unexpected of all. Looking even further out to the horizon from our present moment—at a vista of centuries, rather than mere decades, ahead of us—we may well begin to wonder something else. That is, whether what we are witnessing now is not only the beginning of the end of the Anglican Communion but indeed the end of something even larger: the phenomenon of Christianity Lite itself.
By this I mean the multifaceted institutional experiment, beginning but not ending with the Anglican Communion, of attempting to preserve Christianity while simultaneously jettisoning certain of its traditional teachings—specifically, those regarding sexual morality. Surveying the record to date of what has happened to the churches dedicated to this long-running modern religious experiment, a large historical question now appears: whether the various exercises in this specific kind of dissent from traditional teaching turn out to contain the seeds of their own destruction. The evidence—preliminary but already abundant—suggests that the answer is yes.
If this is so, then the implications for the future of Christianity itself are likely to be profound. If it is Christianity Lite, rather than Christianity proper, that is fatally flawed and ultimately unable to sustain itself, then a rewriting of much of contemporary thought, religious and secular, appears in order. It means that secularization itself may be fundamentally misunderstood. It means that the most unwanted and unfashionable traditional teaching of Christianity, its sexual moral code, demands of the modern mind a new and respectful look. As a strategic matter, it also means that the current battle within the Catholic Church between traditionalists and dissenters must go to the traditionalists, lest the dissenters or cafeteria Catholics take the same path that the churches of Christianity Lite have followed: down, down, down.

First, I don’t know if ‘Christianity Lite’ is the term I would have chosen – it has some negative connotations and I’m not sure it captures the difference in opinion between those of a more progressive mindset, and those who are more traditional.  However, the author has some salient points.  Christian Churches are today divided by questions of sexual morals more than perhaps any issue.  And, within the Catholic Church, there is probably more division based on issues like the impossibility of ordaining women, the inherent evil of abortion and contraception, and the problem of divorce than on any other issues.  From debating fellow Catholics, I know the issues that really stir the blood of the progressives are not theories of justification and transubstantiation, but issues of sexual ethics. 

I think it fair to say that the recent history of the ‘mainline’ protestant churches has not been a happy one.  While they continue to embrace a more and more liberal view of sexual morality, they are bleeding to death.  The only churches which have suffered a greater loss of membership than the Catholic Church, percentage-wise, are the mainline protestant churches.  The United Methodists have fallen from almost 11 million in 1970 to less than 8 million today – a 30% decline.   The Episcopal Church peaked at about 3.7 million in 1966 and has fallen to less than 2 million today – almost a 50% decline.  The Presbyterians, Lutherans, and others have all recorded similar declines.  In some of these churches, including the Episcopal and Lutherans, much of the most recent loss in membership is due to more conservative ecclesial communities breaking away from their parent church due to disagreement over the liberal sexual views of that church.  The Anglicans are certainly the most well known example of this, but the breakaways are happening in almost every ‘mainline’ protestant denomination.

But this doesn’t explain all the loss.   As Ms. Eberstadt describes in great detail, once a Church gives way on one issue of sexual morality (take your pick), the ability to hold the line on any other issue rapidly disintegrates.  As has been demonstrated historically, it is a very short walk from allowing contraception in extreme cases (lack of money, too many kids, etc) to having significant portions of your church pushing for, indeed making a claim for a veritable charitable Christian insistence upon, gays being allowed to marry.   And this jettisoning of traditional Christian thought hardly ends there – many of the most progressive supporters of abortion and gay marriage and similar sexual issues have also announced that they no longer believe in Jesus, or in the Trinity, or in God Himself.  This has two profound effects on the Church membership – it convinces some that all that other high minded talk about Jesus and salvation is just that: talk.  So they leave.  Or, it actively encourages some of the faithful to go and engage in some of that previously illicit behavior, which leads to a general collapse of moral thought, and they leave again.  Either way, it’s not good for your Church.

I know some who feel that we are witnessing the middle stages of the general dissolution of the great protestant heresy.  That may well be the case.  But, this is also a warning for Catholics.  There are many Catholics, lay and ordained alike, who would like to see the Roman Catholic Church follow the example of the Episcopalians and the Methodists, down a line of complete acceptance of all sexual immoralities taught infallibly by the Church.   That they have left their belief  in the Church behind long ago is without question.  But those of us who see the dread danger that lies in such immoral acceptance must always fight against these elements.  We must heed the warnings of the death of mainline protestantism.  We must now allow our Church to become hideously degraded by moral license.  And we must fight for the conversion of all those confused souls who have chosen the world over the Truth of Christ’s Body.

There’s tons more to address from that article, way more than I can cover in a blog post.  Please go read it.