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Dietrich von Hildebrand on Church leadership June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, General Catholic, scandals.
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Dietrich von Hildebrand has been described by Pope Benedict XVI as the premier Catholic philosopher of the 20th Century.  Initially a huge supporter and enthused about the direction of the second Vatican Council, he later became severely disenchanted and felt that the results of the Council were badly hurting the Church.  I don’t have much time to write more commentary at present, but thanks to my main man Steve B, I can post the entire first chapter.  The chapter deals with Hildebrand’s great concern at the direction of the Church in the years immediately following the Council, and what he felt was a profound lack of ecclesial leadership from those charged most with supporting and defending the Faith, the various bishops of the world.  This is long for a blog post, but I think his words are most worth reading.  This is Chapter 1 of von Hildebrand’s work, The Devastated Vineyard, entitled The Lethargy of the Guardians:

ONE OF THE MOST horrifying and widespread diseases in the Church today is the lethargy of the guardians of the Faith of the Church. I am not thinking here of those bishops who are members of the “fifth column,” who wish to destroy the Church from within, or to transform it into something com­pletely different. I am thinking of the far more numerous bishops who have no such intentions, but who make no use whatever of their authority when it comes to intervening against heretical theologians or priests, or against blasphemous performances of public worship. They either close their eyes and try, ostrich-style, to ignore the grievous abuses as well as appeals to their duty to intervene, or they fear to be attacked by the press or the mass media and defamed as reactionary, narrow-minded, or medieval. They fear men more than God. The words of St. John Bosco apply to them: “The power of evil men lives on the cowardice of the good.”

 It is certainly true that the lethargy of those in positions of authority is a disease of our times which is widespread outside the Church. It is found among parents, college and university presidents, heads of numerous other organizations, judges, heads of state, and others. But the fact that this sickness has even penetrated the Church is a clear indication that the fight against the spirit of the world, has been re­placed with swimming along with the spirit of the times in the name of “aggiornamento.” One is forced to think of the hireling who abandons his flocks to the wolves when one reflects on the lethargy of so many bishops and superiors who, though still orthodox 4 themselves, do not have the cour­age to intervene against the most flagrant heresies and abu­ses of all kinds in their dioceses or in their orders.

But it is most especially infuriating when certain bishops, who themselves show this lethargy toward heretics, assume a rigorously authoritarian attitude toward those believers who are fighting for orthodoxy, and who are thus doing what the bishops ought to be doing themselves! I was once allowed to read a letter written by a man in high position in the Church, addressed to a group which had heroically taken up the cause of the true Faith, of the pure, true teaching of the Church and the Pope. This group had overcome the “coward­ice of good men” of which St. John Bosco spoke, and ought thus to have been the greatest joy of the bishops. The letter said: as good Catholics, you have to do only one thing: just be obedient to all the ordinances of your bishop.

This conception of a “good” Catholic is particularly sur­prising at a time in which the coming of age of the modern layman is continually being emphasized. But it is also com­pletely false for this reason: what is fitting at a time when no heresies occur in the Church without being immediately condemned by Rome, becomes inappropriate and

unconscion­able at a time when uncondemned heresies wreak havoc within the Church, infecting even certain bishops, who never­theless remain in office. Should the faithful at the time of the Arian heresy, for instance, in which the majority of the bishops were Arians, have limited themselves to being nice, and obedient to the ordinances of these bishops, instead of battling the heresy? Is not fidelity to the true teaching of the Church to be given priority over submission to the bishop? Is it not precisely by virtue of their obedience to the revealed truths which they received from the magisterium of the Church, that the faithful offer resistance? Are the faithful not supposed to be concerned when things are preached from the pulpit which are completely incompatible with the teach­ing of the Church? Or when theologians are kept on as tea­chers who claim that the Church must accept pluralism in philosophy and theology 5 or that there is no survival of the person after death, or who deny that promiscuity is a sin, or even tolerate public displays of immorality, thereby betraying a pitiful lack of understanding for the deeply Christian virtue of purity?

The drivel of the heretics, both priests and laymen, is tolerated; the bishops tacitly acquiesce to the poisoning of the faithful. 6 But they want to silence the faithful believers who take up the cause of orthodoxy, the very people who should by all rights be the joy of the bishops’ hearts, their consolation, a source of strength for overcoming their own lethargy. Instead, these people are regarded as disturbers of the peace. And should it happen that they get carried away in their zeal and express themselves in a tactless or exagger­ated manner, they are even suspended. This clearly shows the cowardice which is hidden behind the bishops’ failure to use their authority. For they have nothing to fear from the orthodox; the orthodox do not control the mass media or the press; they are not the representatives of public opinion. And because of their submission to ecclesiastical authority, the fighters for orthodoxy will never be as aggressive as the so-called progressives. If they are reprimanded or disciplined, their bishops run no risk of being attacked by the liberal press and being defamed as reactionary.

This failure of the bishops to make use of their God-given authority is perhaps, in practical consequences, the worst confusion in the Church today. For this failure not only does not arrest spiritual diseases, heresies, and the blatant as well as the insidious (and this is much worse) devastation of the vineyard of the Lord; it even gives free rein to these evils. The failure to use holy authority to protect the holy Faith leads necessarily to the disintegration of the Church.

Here, as with the appearance of all dangers, we have to say, “principiis obsta” (“stop the evil at its source”). The longer one allows an evil to develop, the more difficult it will be to root it out again. This is true for the upbringing of children, for the life of the state, and in a special way for the moral life of the individual. But it is true in a completely new way for the intervention of the ecclesiastical authorities for the good of the faithful. As Plato says, “when evils are far advanced, . . . it is never pleasant to eliminate them.” 7

Nothing is more erroneous than to imagine that many things ought to be allowed to rage and do their worst, and that one ought thus to wait patiently until they subside of their own accord. This theory may sometimes be correct with regard to youths going through puberty, but it is completely false in questions of the bonum commune (the common good). This false theory is especially dangerous when ap­plied to the bonum commune of the holy Church, involving blasphemies in public worship and heresies which, if not con­demned, go on poisoning countless souls. Here it is incorrect to apply the parable of the wheat and the tares.

NOTES

4.   By “orthodox” we mean the belief in the unfalsified, official teaching of the holy Church. which represents the authentic, revealed Truth, guar­anteed by the Holy Spirit. The expression “orthodox” in no way refers here to membership in the schismatic Eastern Church.

5.   By “pluralism” I mean the notion that one can have different opinions and views with regard to defined truths of faith, or that every philosophy has a place in the Church — ultimately an absolute relativism. Of course as long as no definition has been given concerning a pure question of faith, different opinions may also be advocated by orthodox Catholics. Thus, with regard to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, contradictory opinions were held by St. Thomas and Duns Scotus. But after the definition of 1854 this would no longer have been possible. Similarly, as we will see, there are philosophical theses only one of which can be true, but neither of which is in contradiction to the Revelation of Christ. But this kind of pluralism is clearly different from the pluralism advocated by Rahner and others.

6.   A shocking example of the activity of the “fifth column” in the Church are the religion books recently introduced in Austria: Glaube Gefragt (“ Faith Questioned”) and Christus Gel ragt (“Christ Questioned”). These books are consciously aimed at the destruction of the Faith in the souls of the young. This is also a crass example of the lethargy of the guardians.

7.   Plato, Laws, no. 660.

How Call to Action got started June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Dallas Diocese, foolishness, General Catholic, scandals.
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I’m ripping off Ignatius Insight again.  I will mortify myself later today.  In 1976, Call to Action, the association of, yes, I will say it, leftist* heretics** in the Church, held their first national conference.  National Review sent a reporter to cover the conclave.  The results were disturbing – the major movers at the conference made no bones of converting the Church into a radical, politicized wing of the furthest left of the democrat party:

As for the bishops whose conference this was supposed to be, some never turned up; others, cardinals among them, appeared briefly and then fled; those who endured to the bitter end perhaps learned something salutary in this school of hard knocks. “You came here to listen, not to talk!” said one militant priest to an unhappy bishop who had attempted to utter sense at one of the workshop sessions. Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia declared that the conference had fallen into the clutch of rebels.

In brief, Call to Action converted itself into a one-man/one-vote National Assembly, all ranks and dignities commingled and confounded, after the French pattern of 1789 rather than after the American pattern of 1776. The majority of the delegates tumultuously endorsed resolutions instructing the bishops to arrange promptly for ordination of women, marriage of the clergy, and a fair deal for homosexuals. Although these calls to action are sufficiently sensational, many other resolutions hastily adopted would alter the Church — and the Republic — still more greatly, were they to take on flesh.

“This conference doesn’t really represent American Catholicism,” a nationally known monsignor told me. “Where are the professional people, the businessmen, the labor people?”

“This is a convention of Church Mice,” I answered. By Church Mice I mean members, paid or volunteer, of the spreading bureaucracy of the Catholic Church in America — Catholic Charities functionaries (whose chief work nowadays is to filter governmental funds through a Church apparatus); malcontent new-breed nuns who would prefer anything to fasting and prayer; activist new-breed priests of the sort who find lettuce boycotts far more lively than visiting the sick; members of parish committees and auxiliary organizations, parochial or provincial (at best) in their outlook; folk who have small knowledge of the real world beyond the shadow of the parish church.

Call to Action was the monstrous baby of Cardinal Dearden of Detroit, upon whom the Church had conferred responsibility for celebrating the Bicentennial. Every participating diocese was entitled to send nine delegates to Detroit; the bishops were supposed to select the nine. But many of the delegates seem to have thrust themselves militantly upon the timorous bishops; others were named because their faces were familiar to bishops; yet others appear to have been nominated at random. In many dioceses, little or no preparatory study of the “working papers” had been undertaken. In consequence, though there were among the delegates a number of learned, sober, experienced, and moderate people, the majority were either aggressive social-action types or functionaries easily persuaded or intimidated by the militants.

….

You may begin to suspect that this Bicentennial gathering was dominated by ideologues who desire to politicize the Church and indulge their appetites for power. Some delegates were quite frank about it. A number of them obviously regarded the Catholic Church in America as a potentially useful auxiliary of the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party, but good for little else; others were more radical in their aspirations.

To the majority, “liberty” seemed to mean increased direction by government and church bureaucracies. (They proposed vast new layers of church bureaucracy and committee-work at every level.) To the majority, “justice” seemed to mean total equality of condition. (How many participants ever had read Aquinas on justice, or even the excellent little book Justice, by Josef Pieper?)

“Is this the beginning of the end of the Catholic Church in America?” an observer, a young writer and editor, asked me. “Not so,” I told him. “These delegates have shocked and alarmed the bishops; and even the dullest and most progressive bishop is jealous to guard one thing — his episcopal authority. The boasted ‘Five Year Plan’ for implementing these crazy demands will be ignored by the bishops. And the bishops will find their resistance sustained by the vast majority of American Catholics.”

No, it was not the beginning of the end of the Catholic Church in the United States, although the Church is horribly divided and very lethargic.  Has the response of the bishops to this challenge been adequate, as ever since this first conference, many of these ‘church mice’ went back to their various diocese and parishes  and tried to carry out the activism they had imbibed in Detroit?  We have seen repeated scandals involving Catholic bureaucracies – CCHD, CTSA, Catholic Charities, CRS, the whole panoply  – due to ties with organizations that deviate from Church doctrine. These organizations are invariably left-wing, generally far left wing.  Yes, Call to Action is an increasingly marginalized and ineffectual group in the Church, but the church mice have built numerous small empires throughout the Church, adding staff of like minded individuals who continue to work for Liberté, égalité, fraternité.  Certainly, history would provide no guide that such efforts have ever caused suffering to the Church.

It’s interesting, nonetheless, from a historical viewpoint.  I think it’s hard for someone like me, a mere pup at the time, to understand how widespread and deep some of the craziness that ran through the culture of the time was.  As a description, it give me chills – I know some prominent Catholics who think the Church was coming close to splitting prior to the elevation of Pope John Paul II – at the thought of the Church having headed even more down that road of modernist, collectivist thought.  Pray God for the conversion of those who feel that Catholicism is best applied as a political program.  And pray for the Church, and our own conversion, so that we may be instruments of God’s Will and always be pleasing in His Sight.

* – the leftism of Call to Action is self-evident by the article and the actions of the group of intervening years
** – Call to Action has been deemed heretical by one bishop in the US with all members excommunicated, and many of their stated positions deviate completely from accepted Church doctrine.

More fun from the Catholic Theological Society of America June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, foolishness, scandals.
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A few weeks ago, I blogged about the Catholic Theological Society of America (CTSA) and some of the topics for discussion planned at their upcoming annual conference.  It seems the present push with CTSA is all multiculturism, all the time.   Ignatius Insight has a post concerning the recent CTSA conference, wherein Father Bryan Massingale (I’m doing my best to bite my tongue), a professor of theology at Marquette, stated:

“We’re trying here to create a Catholic theology that is no longer a European or Eurocentric Catholic theology,” Father Massingale explained. “The way I put it we’re trying to create a Catholic theology that is truly Catholic, truly universal.

Because up to now, the Church that Jesus founded hasn’t been truly Catholic.  It’s just been a European social club.  C’mon!  I guess this explains why they had topics like, I kid you not, “Transgendered Images of Breast Milk.”

Another quote, from a Fr. Peter Phan, who chairs the, again I kid you not, “Committee for the Underrepresented Ethnic and Racial Groups” stated:

The goal of the church is neither to convert people into the church and increase the numbers nor planting the church by establishing more churches, but rather by this prophetic witness, prophetic sense, that here God’s reign is present by the celebration of life.

Good Lord.  I can see that the cultural doubt and zeitgeist of the ‘Western’ elites have also made it into the Vietnamese community.  First of all, why in the name of all that is Holy do Catholic theologians need a Committee for the Underrepresented Ethnic and Racial Groups?  I didn’t realize that race-based identity politics was an important theological issue in the Church.  More likely, this is just an attempt by these Catholic professors to ape the behaviors of their fellow academics in sociology and liberal arts departments.  No multicultural political correctness, no tenure!

Secondly, I didn’t realize the Church had surrendered its Christ inspired witness to go forth and spread the Gospel, to bring all humanity to the Light of His Truth. The Ignatius post helpfully lists several recent encyclicals from Popes Paul VI and John Paul II that directly contradict Fr. Phan’s statement.  I should add that the Church has also asked Fr. Phan to pleeze esplain his numerous contradictions of established Church doctrine, which point not towards ecumenism but towards a rejection of Catholicism as the One True Faith inspired by God, a Church that must incorporate aspects of other faiths in order to achieve the fullness of God’s revelation. 

The final paragraph from Ignatius bears repeating:

In writing about faulty beliefs about the end times, I’ve often made the point that a flawed Christology leads to a lacking ecclesiology, which in turns results, eventually, in a poor eschatology. When Jesus is seen as just one of many different “ways” to God, we often end up believing that, all things (or “paths”) being equal we can create ourselves anew. We then might think the Church is optional, perhaps even counter-productive or somehow opposed to the Kingdom of God. Salvation becomes more about fighting sexism, racism, and other “isms” [especially socialism! -ED] than it is about being freed from sin, filled with divine life, and being prepared to live in eternal communion with God after this life. Some of the folks at CTSA might think they are trying to “create a Catholic theology that is truly Catholic, truly universal,” but how much of it is really true and really Catholic at all?

I leave it as an exercise for the reader to determine just how much CTSA may be contributing to the declared mission of the Catholic Church, so long as it is dominated by the likes reported on in the original article by the Catholic News Service, the official news arm of the USCCB.

Abortion triples risk of breast cancer June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, foolishness, General Catholic, Society.
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From the Times of India:

An abortion may triple a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer while breastfeeding can significantly protect her from the disease, a new study has claimed.

A team of scientists at the University of Colombo in Sri Lanka found that women who breastfed for more than a year had a significant reduction in the risk of developing the disease while terminations tripled the risk.

This is nothing new.  There has been increasing data on the relationship between abortion and breast cancer.  50 years ago, breast cancer was rare in women.  Now, it’s almost the #1 killer.  This did not happen by accident.

There is another relationship as well, but this one is even less popular to report.  There is also a strong link between breast cancer and oral contraceptive use.

Will CHA and other pro-Obamacare Catholic groups support Protect Life Act? June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, scandals.
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A new bill is pending in Congress.  The Protect Life Act amends the bill that created Obamacare to insure that no federal funds go to pay for abortion.   A number of pro-life groups have called upon the Catholic Health Association (CHA), NETWORK group of religious sisters, and the Leadership Conference of Women’s Religious to join in supporting the Protect Life Act.  If you will recall, CHA and a small number of religious sisters threw their support behind Obamacare at the critical juncture, allowing “pro-life Catholic” politicians to vote for the bill.  Obama has himself stated that the support of these Catholic groups was key to the passage of the bill.

These groups have repeatedly protested that they are faithful Catholics, fully supporting all the pro-life doctrine of the Church.  They have stated that they merely “disagreed” with the bishops on the issue of whether or not Obamacare radically funded abortion, in spite of the fact that every reputable pro-life group and non-progressive Catholic group denounced the bill as doing just that.  Nevertheless, now they have a chance to fully establish their pro-life credentials.  There is no reason to oppose the Protect Life Act.  All the Protect Life Act does is to insure that federal funding for Obamacare does not pay for abortions.  The rest of the Obamacare socialization they love remains. 

Will these groups support the Protect Life Act.  We shall see.  Personally, I’m very skeptical.  There will be some mealy mouth statement about why they don’t support the Protect Life Act, and their allies  in the Catholic media (NCR, Commonweal, America, Vox Nova, etc)will immediately rush to their defense, claiming that their failure to support the Protect Life Act actually proves that they are the more pro-life than the bishops, and that will be all.  Anyone want to bet otherwise?

Pope Benedict on the Liturgy and Catechesis June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, North Deanery.
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Via Fr. Z, the Holy Father made the following points recently at an ecclesial conference at St. John Lateran:

The Holy Mass, celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures, fosters and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present.

This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: we go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us. Hence, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external things, but express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ and thus the prayer reveals the faith according to the ancient principle “lex orandi – lex credendi.”

And because of this we can say “the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated” (Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis,” No. 64).

It is necessary that in the liturgy the transcendent dimension emerge with clarity, that of the mystery, of the encounter with the Divine, which also illumines and elevates the “horizontal,” that is the bond of communion and of solidarity that exists between all those who belong to the Church.

In fact, when the latter prevails, the beauty, profundity and importance of the mystery celebrated is fully understood. Dear brothers in the priesthood, to you the bishop has entrusted, on the day of your priestly Ordination, the task to preside over the Eucharist. Always have at heart the exercise of this mission: celebrate the divine mysteries with intense interior participation, so that the men and women of our City can be sanctified, put into contact with God, absolute truth and eternal love.

The full text his here..

“The best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist well celebrated.”   Lex orandi – lex credendi.  I couldn’t agree more.  Celebrating the Mass in a reverent style that adheres the this GIRM isn’t just a matter of taste, it’s a necessity for the accurate representation of the Faith.  If the Mass is changed to satisfy certain demands, or perhaps allow some small abuses to go on, like clapping for various reasons**, the Mass is reduced as comes to represent less than it should.  This has been a major point of emphasis with the Holy Father of late – the need for very reverent celebrations of the Mass in order to help form the faithful and strengthen our Catholic identity that is so under assault.  In some local parishes, this is not a problem, there is a great effort to celebrate Mass according to the norms, but in other parishes it’s more problematic.  It would not hurt to pray that all the Masses celebrated in the area be as reverent and orthodox as possible – would you consider doing so, in your charity?

Hurt June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, asshatery, awesomeness.
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Not to be too self-indulgent, but Johnny Cash and I have a bit in common, God rest his soul.  He was an addict.  I’m an addict.  We both were formed with a pretty good faith in our youth, and finding a way back to that faith helped both of us get clean and shift the focus from our narcissism to something so much greater than either of us.  My addiction will be with me always.  Once you cross a certain point in the use of drugs and/or alcohol, there is no going back.  Something happens in your brain, in your blood chemistry, and you become dependent.  I could use again at any time.  I used to be in NA, but I’ve found that the Catholic Faith provides me with a better means of dealing with my tendency towards selfish self-destruction than NA. 

There are certain things that bring back the memories of those days.  Sometimes I still get the taste of a dozen chewed up Norcos in my mouth.  Sometimes I remember the awful things I did when I was using, and it makes me want to crawl out of my skin.  I think God uses those moments to try to help me be more humble.  I know I’ve caused alot of hurt.

I think Johnny Cash understood that, which is why he chose to record a version of Trent Reznor’s Hurt.  I like it better than the original, although all three of us have wasted years chasing the dragon.  Johnny Cash made the video below when he was very sick – he had already suffered at least one stroke, and his voice was not nearly so powerful as it had been before.  He died shortly after the video was made.

This one also stirs the memories. 

An economist argues for having larger families June 25, 2010

Posted by Tantumblogo in General Catholic, Society.
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An economist tried to make an economic argument to have larger families.  Is it just me, or does this guy fail miserably?   The article is too long and convoluted to conveniently excerpt.  So, I’ll just say this:  for my wife and I, our decisions regarding having kids have never been based on economics.   If we thought about the money our kids cost, we could make oursevles miserable, but in reality, they don’t “cost” that much.  It’s all about choices.  You don’t have to spend alot of money to keep your kids dressed and entertained.  Half Price Books and thrift stores are wonderful things – but we shop there out of choice, not out of need.  We like what they have.

An economic argument the author ignores is the tremendous economic benefit to society of having large families.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again, if the United States had averaged having 2.7 kids per woman over the past 40 years, rather than 2.0, we would have no problems funding social security and medicare, and we would not be up to our necks in debt.  More people mean more wealth.  The greatest economic asset a society can have is its people.  The main reason why Europe is in free fall, economically and socially, is a lack of reproduction.  The number one way a society can insure future economic growth is to have relatively large families.

For Catholics, however, we should remember the imperative of our faith, to be open to having children throughout marriage.  I take a stronger view than many in the Church, that the procreative aspect of marriage is still its primary end, but the idea that the unitive aspect of marriage is equal to procreative end which has become accepted by many since Vatican II in no way diminishes this imperative.