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Franciscan Sisters of Mary have given up August 22, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, foolishness, General Catholic, religious, sadness, scandals.
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The Franciscan Sisters of Mary are, I think it safe to say, a religious order to took up the ‘spirit of Vatican II’ with great fervor.  The order, first founded in 1872 by a group of nuns (not sisters) from Germany, over the last few decades the order shucked the habit and much else of traditional religious life, and brached out into other, more politically motivated areas, like their Justice Ministry (opposing the US “buildup” of nuclear weapons, which is odd, since the US has not constructed a new nuclear device in 20 years) and “Woman’s Place,” a facility dedicated to helping women overcome “the violence of gender discrimination,” among other things. 

Suffice it to say, this is not an order I would have bothered to find out much about, were it not for a Slimes article today discussing the recent retirement of a sister who formerly headed the other main apostolate of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary – SSM Healthcare, a substantial Midwest hospital chain.  While nuns used to make up much of the staff and administration of such hospitals, Sr. Mary Jean Ryan was the last sister to head a US Catholic hospital.  But in the discussion about this dissolution of administrative roles, I found something more important, and much more sad.  The Franciscan Sisters haven’t had a new vocation in 25 years, and they are committed to suicide:

Sister Mary Jean’s order has dwindled to about 100 from a peak of more than 500. Most moved out of their convent last year and into a retirement and nursing home. There has not been an initiate for 25 years, and several years ago the sisters reluctantly stopped looking.

“It was painful,” Sister Mary Jean said in an interview in her modest apartment, “but I think it was also courageous to say we’re just not going to recruit any more. Let’s just live out the rest of our lives to the fullest that we possibly can and thank God for what we’ve been able to do. And when the time comes, as they say, the last person turn the lights out.

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary, once one of the largest orders in this country, have not had a vocation in 25 years – a quarter of a century.  And they’ve given up looking.  Why?  Because selling women who have a passionate love for our Lord on a lifetime of, at the least, highly non-traditional views of the Faith and radical feminism is not a recipe for success.  The number of women who want to subvert the Church from within, using this feminist ideology is vanishingly small.  And women today who feel they have a vocation to religious life view the way the Franciscan Sisters of Mary, and many other LCWR orders, have interpreted religious life as just as alien and strange and foreboding as many of the Franciscan Sisters find the traditional ways of religious life they left behind.  In other words, if the Franciscan Sisters wanted to survive, they would have to radically change, and that is very hard to do, especially for those beyond a certain point in life.

I think that is what Sister Mary Jean meant when she said their decision not to recruit was ‘courageous.’  But when she says ‘courageous,’ I read more as pride.  Because I think it is ultimately pride that has driven so many women’s religious orders to the brink of suicide – pride that the changes made after Vatican II were the best, the only possible direction women’s religious could go, pride that the novel and frequently heterodox views of the Faith espoused by many women’s religious are were the wave of the future, bold, transgressive, etc, and pride that the traditional ways of religious life were bad and simply had to be done away with, as a matter of course.  And so now they sell infrastructure to pay for health care for very aged members, they watch buildings that once housed dozens of nuns being razed, and they quietly age into that good night.  Scanning some of the photos on their website, where religious sisters disturbingly wear matching polyester pants and floral print shirts, it is apparent that the night will not be long in coming.  The mid-20th century experiment is drawing to a close. The future of religious life belongs to a different type of woman.

Mass is more about the people who attend it……. August 22, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, episcopate, General Catholic, Interior Life, Papa.
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……..than the God who is worshipped at it.  Americanism is a condemned heresy, but due to the overwhelming cultural influence the United States has had over the past century, especially in Europe, many problematic ideas from this country have infected the Church in other nations, as well.  I don’t know if the immodesty and irreverence can be largely attributed to American influence, but given the influence the American, and American-associated, bishops have had in the Church especially in the past 50 years, it is quite possible that the tendency to put the Faith in a box, to separate the Faith from other aspects of life, has been due to tendencies towards Americanism.  This may not be a popular post, I’m not sure, many of the ideas of the Americanism heresy are very popular in this country, even among Catholics, but Voris’ comments deserve wide discussion:

I agree that the purpose of events like World Youth Day should be to focus on the Faith, and not have a giant party.  It is sad that some of the events did not have an atmosphere conducive to prayer or even a focus on the Faith as opposed to chest thumping. 

Other nationalistic heresies of the past include Gallicanism and the separated Eastern churches.

Chaput – secular media biased against religion, lazy, inaccurate August 22, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, Society.
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Archbishop Charles Chaput, soon to be ordinary for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, spoke at World Youth Day, where he stated that Catholics should not rely on the secular media for news regarding the Faith, due to the great bias, laziness, and ignorance possessed by many reporters on matters of religion:

The news outlets CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and MSNBC do not “provide trustworthy information about religious faith,” said Philadelphia’s incoming Archbishop, Charles Chaput, at the Catholic World Youth Day ongoing this week in Madrid, Spain. [Archbishop Fulton Sheen once famously said that there aren’t 100 people in America who hate what the Catholic Church believes, but there are millions who hate what they think the Church believes.  Most people in this country have their views of the Catholic Faith formed by the secular media and some by hostile forms of protestantism.  Both badly misrepresent the Faith in furtherance of their own agendas]

Chaput, the former Archbishop of Denver, made his remarks in an address on religious freedom to a group of more than 10,000 young pilgrims in Madrid on Wednesday. As initially reported in First Things, Chaput told the audience that, “In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only against Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers.”

And with relatively few exceptions,” he said, “the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.” [That’s certainly true, especially regarding the ignorance and bias.  Unfortunately, it is a received ‘truth’ in some segments of our culture that faithful Christians are ignorant, bizarre, and dangerous.  And those in the media with a particularly socialist or marxist ideology feel the Church is a great threat to their aims, a further source of hostility (there is a well known Professor of Journalism at UT that only supports ‘Christians’ when they are of the social justice, liberation theology types – all others are to be discredited and opposed.  How many journalists has he formed?)]

The Archbishop continued: “We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. [faithful Catholic blogs are a much better source!!] These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith — and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices.” [We are all limited by our pre-conceived notions.  It is possible that even reporters trying to be fair simply can’t think outside of their own preferences and world-views]

“These are secular operations focused on making a profit,” he said.  “They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”

It is interesting to read the comments at the CNS news link.  CNS is a evangelical protestant news source.  They are also rather conservative, socially and politically.  The commenters express great surprise that a Catholic bishop would hold such critical views of secular media, since ‘aggiornamiento’ has too often come to mean in practice a seeming acquiescence to the dominant cultural memes and a surrender to (or acceptance of) the progressive agenda in so many areas.  That’s interesting, because to some extent it’s true.  While those with hostile views of the Church and some of Her notable leaders have undoubtably been formed by the same hostile media and cultural environment Chaput describes, there has been a tendency, at least publicly, for many bishops and the USCCB to accept, at face value, many dominant cultural memes.  We haven’t had too many prelates who will stand and face the culture and call it to account for all the evil it accomodates or outright embraces.  Yes, some leaders have taken stands on given issues (unfortunately, all too frequently, ‘social justice’ and other issues in thrall of progressives), but many are quite silent.  The most important role of a bishop is to teach the Faith, not only to the faithful of his Diocese but also the broader world.  It is vital for bishops to always proclaim the Truth Christ has revealed, in spite of the potential ‘political’ or other cost. 

There are many problems in the Church.  Many stem from the faithful failing to lead lives of a distinctive Catholic character, lives of virtue and Grace.  But the faithful have also been let down by the Church leadership in many cases.  We all need to do a much better job.  We all need to strive to life fully in union with all Christ has revealed through His Church, and not a life where the Truth is subordinated to our vices or personal desires and whims.


Pro-life laws shutter over a dozen Planned Barrenhood facilities August 22, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, General Catholic, North Deanery, scandals, sickness, Society.
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Including some in the Diocese of Dallas.  Catholic Vote reports that pro-life laws passed in Arizona and Texas have resulted in the closure of a number of Planne Barrenhood facilities, including seven abortion mills in Arizona, where more stringent laws have gone into effect

News from yesterday describes no less than 14 Planned Parenthood offices either stopping their abortions or closing altogether, in Arizona and Texas, because of the passage of pro-life state laws.

Pro-life laws of various types in both states lead to the reduction, including in seven Planned Parenthoods in Arizona that stopped abortions because they didn’t want to meet the basic health standards that the pro-life laws required (such as abortions being done by actual doctors and not just nurses).  The Arizona abortion scaleback comes after a court decision upholding pro-life laws.  Meanwhile in Texas, pro-life budget cuts have reportedly led to the closure of seven Planned Parenthood locations. (including facilities in Plano, Mesquite, Sherman, Terrell, and Waxahachie – all in the Diocese of Dallas). 

While recently enacted laws in Texas, aimed at limiting access to abortion, may be far from ideal, they are substantial steps in the right direction.  Progress is being made, sometimes slowly, and sometimes more quickly, like this year.  Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are under fire in most of the 50 states – only in liberal bastions are they relatively secure, for now.  But in great swaths of the country, abortion is increasingly being recognized for the hideous reality that it is – a horrific stain on the nation’s conscious and an unjustifable system of brutality and disregard for life.  But we must not grow satisfied with our efforts.  We must work to make abortion such a costly and difficult practice that almost all providers will simply choose to leave this business.  Money has always been the key regarding abortion – take away the lucrative financial aspect and the number of ‘physicians’ willing to perform these acts of barbarism will collapse towards nil.

Now, more than ever, more prayers and more penance and more efforts are needed.  We have momentum – we must build on it continually.

No more altar girls at Phoenix Cathedral August 22, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, Dallas Diocese, episcopate, Eucharist, General Catholic, Liturgy, North Deanery, priests, sadness, scandals, sickness, Society.
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Bishop Olmstead strikes again? (h/t culturewarnotes):

Girls no longer will be allowed as altar servers during Mass at the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, SS. Simon and Jude.

The Rev. John Lankeit, rector of the cathedral, said he made the decision in hopes of promoting the priesthood for males and other religious vocations, such as becoming a nun, for females.

Made up primarily of fifth- through eighth-graders the altar-server corps in American churches has included girls since 1983 in many places. Girls and boys regularly serve together at churches throughout the Phoenix Catholic Diocese.

Bishops and pastors always have had the option of restricting the role to boys, but only one diocese, Lincoln, Neb., and scattered parishes have done so. Before 1983, when church law was revised, girls were not allowed to serve.

At SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, the girls will be offered the role of sacristan, the person who prepares the church and the altar area before Mass.

Lankeit said 80 to 95 percent of priests served as altar boys, but he could not state the percentage of altar servers who go on to be priests.

He made the decision on his own, he said, even though the cathedral is recognized as the home church of Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and is used for some important church events.

“He leaves these decisions to me,” Lankeit said. [So, Bishop Olmstead can’t be ‘blamed’, or praised, for this?]

SS. Simon and Jude is believed to be the first church in the diocese of Phoenix to ban girls from serving Mass, according to the diocese. [But, being the Cathedral, one hopes it would set an example to the parishes.  Surely the Cathedral rector could not take this action if the Bishop were strongly opposed – he has to have at least tacit support].

“The connection between serving at the altar and priesthood is historic,” Lankeit said. “It is part of the differentiation between boys and girls, as Christ established the priesthood by choosing men. Serving at the altar is a specifically priestly act.” [Especially when altar boys are trained to a high standard and an esprit de corps develops.  At parishes where the altar boys have such training and esprit, anecdotally, the number of vocations is much higher]

 I have five girls.  I of course love them very much.  But I recognize that boys and girls are suited to different things, different vocations, at times.  I don’t think it unreasonable to have an all-girl sacristan corps, and an all-boy altar server group.  It can help build camaraderie without the tensions of inter-sexual relations.  Later in the article linked above, there were comments from two parishioners at different Phoenix parishes which were derogatory towards this change of cathedral policy.  The commenters feel that altar service is an equality issue for females, which reveals both bad catechesis and a hint of the condemned heresy of Americanism (that individual rights should trump the rights, or the good, of the Church).  This is nonsense, and one of the commenters seemed to be alluding to the fact that the all male priesthood, established by Christ Himself, is somehow discriminatory, completely missing, apparently, the establishment of Church as Bride of Christ and the priest’s male role as the husband to that Bride when in persona Christi.  But then again, in today’s culture……they probably wouldn’t even accept that vision of the marital union between Christ and Church as necessarily needing to be male and female.

We have so very much work to do.  I congratulate Rector Lankeit and Bishop Olmstead.  I pray to see a similar example set in this Diocese.