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Roberto De Mattei on a proper understanding of religious liberty August 6, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, disaster, Ecumenism, episcopate, error, General Catholic, Papa, scandals, Society, Tradition.
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In a very well timed entry, noted Italian historian and Catholic Professor Roberto De Mattei has penned a brief piece which gives a proper, traditional Catholic understanding of the much bandied about term “religious liberty.”  In fact, the entry is so well timed, one must wonder if this is not something of a commentary on the fact that the USCCB and individual bishops have chosen to focus on making the Obama HHS contraception mandate persecution one of religious liberty, rather than a government attempt to make the Church commit acts of grave moral evil and interference in the rights of the Church.  Since so many Catholics, and Americans in general, love their contraception so much, it may have been judged by the bishops more political expedient to use the term “religious liberty” rather than attack the contraception directly.  Unfortunately, they are also using the term in a rather incorrect, or liberal, way, that caused even more confusion on an already very confused issue.  Enough with me, some excerpts from Professor De Mattei’s piece (I add emphasis and comments):

Among the slogans of “politically correct” language there is the term “religious liberty”, which is used incorrectly at times by Catholics as a synonym for freedom for the Church or freedom for Christians.  In reality the terms and concepts are different and it is necessary to clarify them. The ambiguity present in the Conciliar declaration Dignitatis humanae (1965) arose from the lack of distinction between the internal forum, which is in the sphere of personal conscience, and the public space, which is in the sphere of the community, or rather the profession and propagation of one’s personal religious convictions. [Prior to Vatican II, there was not so much confusion on this issue.  It is no secret that the American bishops at the Council perhaps had grown to be unduly influenced by the concept of “religious liberty” espoused in this country, which means that anyone can believe whatever they want without government interference.  This belief had already been declared erroneous by Pope Leo XIII when he named and condemned the Americanist heresy.  But that did not stop this error from being widespread in the Church in the US. The US bishops were perhaps at the peak of their influence in the Church at the time of the Council]
The Church, with Pope Gregory XVI in Mirari Vos (1836), with Pope Pius IX in the Syllabus and in Quanta Cura (1864), but also with Pope Leo XIII in Immortale Dei (1885) and in Libertas (1888) teaches that:
  • 1. No one can be constricted to believe in the private forum, because faith is a personal choice formed in the conscience of  man.
  • 2. Man has no right to religious freedom  in the public space, or rather freedom to profess whatever religion, because only the true and the good have rights and not what is error and is evil.
  • 3. Public worship of false religions may be, in cases, tolerated by the civil authorities, with the view of obtaining a greater good or avoiding a greater evil, but, in essence, it may be repressed even by force if necessary. But the right to tolerance is a contradiction, because, as is evident even from the term, whatever is tolerated is never a good thing, rather, it is always a purely bad thing. In the social life of nations, error may be tolerated as a reality, but never allowed as a right.  Error “has no right to exist objectively nor to propaganda, nor action” (Pius XII Speech Ci Riesce 1953)

Further, the right of being immune to coercion, or rather the fact that the Church does not impose the Catholic Faith on anyone, but requires the freedom of the act of faith, does not arise from a presumed natural right to religious freedom or a presumed natural right to believe in any religion whatever, but it is founded on the fact that the Catholic Religion, the only true one, must be embraced in complete freedom without any constraints. The liberty of the believer is based on the truth believed and not on the self-determination of the individual. The Catholic and only the Catholic has the natural right to profess and practice his religion and he has it because his religion is the true one. Which means that no other believer apart from the Catholic has the natural right to profess his religion.[publicly]

This is a challenging view for Americans to take.  It runs counter to so much of what we have been taught to believe, not only by secular institutions and the culture at large but even (or especially) by the Church.  That applies more so even now than it did 50-60 years ago.  Modern American culture, and even so many in the Church today, accept without question the notion that everyone should be able to practice, publicly, whatever religion they choose, and that the government should take no sides whatsoever.  The bishop’s very response to the mandate seems to accept this essentially American view of religious liberty unquestioningly.

As De Mattei goes on to elucidate, states have a general responsibility for the common good.  We, as Catholics, know that our religion is the true one instituted by Jesus Christ.  Since the state has this concern about the common good, it should be concerned about the moral and religious condition of their citizenry.  The Catholic Church represents the supreme good in terms of faith and morals, and so the state has a responsibility not only not to attack the Church, but to support and defend her publicly.  In a right ordered society, the state even has a duty to squash religious error or at most tolerate it – a toleration based on reasons of expediency that vary according to time and location.  But error can never be declared to be equivalent to the Truth, or – and this is the key – enjoy the same public rights as  the Truth.

This was the unequivocal belief of the Church throughout its history, at least from about AD 315 until mid 20th century.  De Mattei is arguing that the Magisterial definitions regarding this notion of liberty mean that belief is still in operation today, but many seem to see in the last Council a great shift away from this perennial teaching.  But to say these topics are controversial is to put it mildly.  The Holy Father, certainly, has seemed at times to endorse the Conciliar view of things with regard to conscience and so-called religious liberty, but there are some caveats in some of his statements that make this a bit unclear, at least to me.  It’s a complex subject, one I can’t really flesh out in a blog post.  But I hope the brief explanation above helps stimulate thinking and further research into the subject by readers.

CCHD to gay activist group – You WILL take our money! August 6, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, horror, persecution, scandals, Society.
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Ah, yes, another week, another Catholic charities scandal.  In this case, a Boston area gay advocacy group decided that they couldn’t accept money from the Church in good conscience, since their activities would tend to run counter to what the Church believes.  They decided to return the $40,000 grant given them by CCHD.  CCHD says, hey, not so fast!  All this “doctrine” stuff is flexible!

A Chelsea community organization has returned a $40,000 grant from the Roman Catholic Church out of concern that the money could come with too many restrictions against helping gay people and working with organizations supporting gay rights.

…………..But Vega said she and colleagues were taken aback in March when a local representative of the Catholicn Campaign came for a site visit, speaking at length to the group about the need to avoid work that conflicted with Catholic teachings, including activities that might “support the gay lifestyle.”

In a follow-up meeting with staff, according to Vega, the representative suggested the Chelsea group should avoid work involving the gay community……..[So, at least one CCHD staffer was doing their job?]

So, based on this guidance, this Chelsea group decided to return the money donated.  But a “grant specialist” at CCHD makes clear that working with people who hold views antithetical to the Faith is part and parcel of what CCHD does, and that the whole thing was just a big misunderstanding:

So the Chelsea Collaborative informed the Catholic Campaign it would return the grant and withdraw its application for another next year.

Randy Keesler, a grants specialist at the Catholic Campaign, told Vega in an e-mail that there had been a miscommunication and lamented that, given the groups’ longstanding relationship, she had not come to him with her concerns first. The Chelsea Collaborative provided a copy of the e-mail to the Globe.

“We have relationships and work in partnership with many organizations at the national level which differ from the Catholic church’s teaching” on gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues, Keesler wrote.

Let me repeat that for you:

We have relationships and work in partnership with many organizations at the national level which differ from the Catholic church’s teaching

Why?  Why is it so absolutely vital to CCHD to spread its money around – money donated by Catholics who in all likelihood have no idea their money is being spent on organizations “which differ from the Catholic church’s teaching” – to groups that actively oppose what the Church believes.

Randy Keesler just confirmed for us what all the CCHD critics have been saying for years – CCHD gives money to groups that are, to varying degrees, opposed to or even hostile to what the Church believes.  We don’t have to dig around and look at the grants and establish this connection – CCHD’s own “grants specialist” has made this known as the most matter-of-fact, ho-hum kind of statement you could make. It’s the banality of it that makes it so revealing.

In the present cultural and political climate, does it make sense to fund groups who advocate for things that are counter to the Faith?  We are in the beginning stages of a persecution, a persecution that could be one of the very worst yet, but the bishops  conference (USCCB) is going to fund some of the very groups that are working to have the Church pushed out of the public square?

But that has been the constant problem within the Church over the past 50 years -Church leadership says one thing, and then does another.  Such behavior is, to a large degree, responsible for the present, very sad, state of the Church.

What is really sad, is that in spite of all the negative attention directed at CCHD, their donations are only down about 20% since 2008 or so, and that could be due to the economy.  The priest (or lay woman) makes an announcement, the basket comes around, and blissfully ignorant Catholics put a few dollars in it, and the train keeps right on rolling.  We live in such strange times.

I should note that, ultimately, the pro-gay charity decided that taking CCHD money was more trouble than it was worth, since CCHD could not spell out what, if any, restrictions on their advocacy would be associated with that money.


Latin Mass tonight at St. Mark August 6, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, General Catholic, Latin Mass, North Deanery.
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We will have Latin Mass tonight at St. Mark at 7pm.  This is not the Requiem Mass I stated last week, that will be next week.  Since this is the Feast of the Transfiguration the Mass will be for the Feast.

An awesome sermon you MUST listen to! August 6, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, awesomeness, Basics, contraception, disaster, General Catholic, Glory, horror, Latin Mass, sickness, Society, unadulterated evil.
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The sermon is entitled Spiritual Fertility vs. Spiritual Barrenness, and compares the lives of the saintly Elisabeth Leseur, whose willing embrace of suffering led to the conversion of her militant atheist husband after her death, and Margaret Sanger, racist, eugenicist, and ultimately one of the main forces involved in the elimination of billions of potential children through her fervent support for contraception and abortion.

I have stated on this blog that public heresy, or, virulent hatred for the Church and Her beliefs, is very frequently powered by “private” sin.  In Sanger’s case, the sin was promiscuity, which, in spite of her two marriages, she indulged in throughout most of her adult life.  But her entire outlook was fueled by true hatred, hatred for those who were not white and middle to upper class.  Her eugenicist views saw human beings as essentially the same as animals, to be bred in order to “improve the stock” and produce “a race of thoroughbreds.”  Such thinking was put into place as national policy in several countries in the mid-20th century, with the result that tens of millions died.

The contrast between the life-giving faith, hope, and charity of Elizabeth Leseur and the diabolical hatred and constant sin of Margaret Sanger demonstrates the constant conflict between the City of God, or the Church, and the city of man, or the world.  Margaret Sanger thought with the mind of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and millions continue to suffer at her hands, even long after her death.  Elizabeth Leseur thought with the mind of the Church, suffered for the good of another, and her faith, hope, and charity resulted in the conversion of her militant atheist husband and his likely (I pray) salvation, in addition to the many souls (including Venerable Fulton Sheen) who have benefited spiritually from that conversion.  It is the story of the Church and its conflict with the world and its master in microcosm.  I strongly, strongly encourage you to listen to this short (15 min) sermon.

Thanks to reader Terry C for sending me this link.  And I thank God for sending us shepherds who preach the Truth Christ has revealed through His Church.  We need so many more such good, faithful priests.


Non Sequitur – Mars Science Lab successfully lands August 6, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Admin, awesomeness, blogfoolery, fun, Society.
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NASA really went to town trying to explain how dangerous and complicated the landing was, perhaps covering their bases in the event of a failure, but the Mars Science Lab rover Curiosity has successfully landed on Mars and sent back its first pictures:

In that photo above, the dust stirred up from the retrorockets firing during landing can still be seen in the air.  NASA will spend a few days checking out curiosity before it begins a planned 2 years of exploration.  This rover, unlike previous ones, is powered by a radioisotope thermoelectric generator – it uses the heat from decaying plutonium to power the spacecraft.  It will have much more power, and more reliable power, than the previous, solar powered rovers.  The Spirit and Opportunity rovers which have been on Mars for the past 8 years (Opportunity is still working) have periodically had to be shut down when their solar powers get covered with Martian dust and dirt.  Fortunately, periodic winds have cleaned the solar panels off, allowing Opportunity to continue functioning far, far longer than planned.

This new rover, and 9ft long and 2000 lbs, is far larger than any previous rover sent to any planet.

That would be an Opportunity-type rover on the left, the tiny Mars Sojourner from the 90s in the middle and Curiosity on the right.

But whether this country should be spending $2.5 billion to study Mars in the present economic climate is a good question.  I’m a space enthusiast, but I don’t know if finding out the history of water on Mars or determining whether it ever had any microbial life is worth the expenditure.

But, too late now, it’s there and the money is mostly spent.  It will be interesting to see if this rover makes any radical discoveries – if there are any to make on Mars.