Thursday, August 30, 2018

Archbishop Coleridge's lame leadership

http://cathnews.com/cathnews/32958-archbishop-coleridge-warns-against-radical-polarisation

On the Australian hierarchy's CathNews website we learn that legalizing abortion is being proposed there, so how is Brisbane's Archbishop Mark Coleridge marshaling his flock? He counsels them to avoid adopting "divisive tactics such as gruesome images and descriptions of abortion." Instead, he wants them to be "sensitive." He thinks that the strong division of opinion here in the United States over abortion laws has no place in Australia.

Too bad for Australia, then.

Archbishop Coleridge thinks our outrage over the slaughter of children in the womb is "ideological" and therefore bad. Even if what he disdains as ideology is merely the plain unchanging teaching of the very Catholic Church in which he occupies a position of leadership.

And therefore he says:

“I don’t see myself as an ideological warrior riding into battle to defeat the forces of darkness.”

Well, if you don't see abortion as part of the platform of the forces of darkness, Archbishop, you deny the teaching of the Church that calls it intrinsically evil.

And if you don't see yourself as a warrior riding into battle to defeat those forces of darkness, sacrificing everything if need be, you have no business being a Bishop, let alone an Archbishop.

Have the decency to resign, and go get an ordinary job that doesn't demand -- yes, demand! -- that you ride into that battle joyfully every day.

I used to believe that Australians were a brave and forthright bunch because I grew up on movies like The Lighthorsemen and Breaker Morant, and on books about that tenacious stand on the Kokoda Trail in 1942. But when I see that Oz now honors men who don't want to fight as hard as they can for what's right, I begin to suspect that times have changed.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Doubts

Someone I know uses the following as part of his/her email signature:
“If one has the answers to all the questions – that is the proof
that God is not with him. 
It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself.
The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always
left room for doubt.”
The person quoted is Pope Francis. The source is America, the dissident Jesuit magazine, from 2013.

This is the same Pope who appears to pay no attention to any doubts expressed about his own off-the-cuff verbal meanderings, nor to repeated requests for clarification of his vague statements in Amoris Laetitia, even when those with questions are Cardinals of the Church who have submitted their dubia officially to him as Canon law allows. Not even the courtesy of a genuine reply. Just a remark, months later, that the interpretation formulated by a group of South American bishops was the correct one, without even mentioning the patiently doubting Cardinals.

This is the same Pope who attacks as "rigid" those who wish to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, or who take Catholic morality seriously enough to put up a real struggle with temptation (and encourage others to do the same). No room for their doubts about the shabby irreverence of contemporary Catholic worship. C'mon, people, have the right doubts, and then everything will be cool!

Did "the great leaders of the people of God, like Moses," really leave much room for doubt? When was that exactly, Your Holiness? I seem to recall that Moses was not leaving much room for doubt when he came down from Sinai and found that "the people of God" had turned to idolatry and vice while he was away receiving the Ten Commandments. I seem to recall something about throwing down the stone tablets in fury. Did Jesus Himself leave tons of wiggle room when He said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing?" Or "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life?" (No ambiguous sentences seeming to leave the door open to worthwhile things that Astarte or Isis or Aphrodite might have to offer the human race in His place.)

Francis here gives us another round of the same game that we've become so familiar with since 2013: invent a straw man and then revel in destroying it. After all, just who was claiming to have all the answers, relying on his own authority rather than on the Faith as it has been passed down to us?

Monday, June 18, 2018

Another good statement from Francis, but...

In trying to look only at what Pope Francis says and does, instead of trying to look into his heart and judge his overall character (a vain pursuit, no matter who's the subject), I have to commend him for his recent remarks to the Italian family group Forum delle Famiglie.

In these off-the-cuff statements, he called abortion "white-glove" Nazism, referring to the Third Reich's eugenics programs. This is surprising for two reasons: first, it's usually when he speaks off-the-cuff that he has made his most heterodox-sounding pronouncements, and this is very orthodox indeed; second, because in pointing out the parallel between that earlier eugenics based on race and today's eugenics based on personal preference, he said something stronger than most anti-abortion activists have heretofore felt comfortable saying.

I like Robert Royal's analysis at The Catholic Thing.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Crosses in Germany

Cardinal Reinhard Marx is now fulminating against the Bavarian government’s move to place crosses on public buildings. He complains that such a display would create “division” and make some Germans uncomfortable.

I’ve got news for the Cardinal. The Gospel is about division—the division between those who accept Jesus Christ and those who do not. Between those who choose Life and those who choose… something else. This division can’t be made to go away by any amount of "accompaniment" or "discernment."

It is about making people uncomfortable. In a way, nothing should make us more uncomfortable than the sight of a cross. The cross is a reminder of the way we treated God when He came in His Second Person, Jesus Christ, to save us. We took His love and threw it in His face. We beat Him. We killed Him. And after He rose from the dead and ascended into Heaven, we scorned His memory and disbelieved His disciples. What a sorry lot we are, says the Cross.

And not just first-century Jews and Romans, or later European Christians, or any other subset of humanity. Every person who ever lived or will live. All have fallen short of the glory of God, all have sinned, even those who have never heard the Gospel and have only the natural law to guide them.

So, Cardinal Marx: as the hymn says, "Lift high the cross." Or admit you just don't believe the whole thing and that you need to retire.

Monday, April 30, 2018

A good deed

Pope Francis took a vigorous role in the ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save Alfie Evans from the clutches of the UK's National Health Service. It was exactly the right thing to do, and it has helped the Papacy regain a modicum of its moral authority.

I've deplored the many missteps we've had to endure during Francis' papacy, but Credit Where Credit is Due. He got this one very right.

Monday, April 16, 2018

We shouldn't have been surprised

Since the beginning of his pontificate, people have been lauding Pope Francis as an exceptionally humble man (usually with the veiled false accusation that his predecessors were not so). So in the light of his frequent demonstrations that he will brook no opposition, and his rudeness in dismissing the legitimate requests from Cardinals that he clarify his notoriously careless and ambiguous remarks and writings, one wonders whether we should have seen this coming. It's worthwhile to note that his very first Papal action -- his choice of name -- should have given us warning that not all was as humble as was claimed.

For more than a thousand years, no Pope since Lando (913-914), had adopted a name that had never been used before. Of his two predecessors, St. John Paul II took the names of John XXIII and Paul VI, and Benedict took a name used by fifteen previous popes.

But along comes Jorge Bergoglio, and he must have something new and different.

If you are truly humble when taking on the mantle of St. Peter, perhaps you choose a well-worn papal name, one that will emphasize your sense of being an unworthy part of a worthy tradition.

Perhaps, if he had been a reader of Charles Dickens, he should have taken a different brand-new name: Uriah.

Not as in The Hittite, but as in Heep.


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Give us Barabbas!

A few months ago I had the pleasure of hearing the California Bach Society perform Bach's magnificent St. Matthew Passion. Midway in that three-hour masterpiece comes the moment when Pilate, desperate to appease the bloodthirsty mob, tries to get them to let him save Jesus as the one condemned criminal he pardons each year at Passover-time. Hoping to skew the results, he sets up a choice that he thinks is a slam-dunk: it's got to be either the inconvenient but blameless Jesus, he declares, or the scum-of-the-earth armed robber and murderer Barabbas.

To his utter astonishment, the crowd chooses life for the guilty, and death for the innocent.

I hear an echo of the Jerusalem crowd's choice in the present intense clamor to abolish the death penalty in California, especially among certain professional Catholics here. Give us the convicted serial murderer, they shout; but when our Pilate-equivalent asks what is to be done with the inconvenient but innocent baby in the womb, they clamor for his death. Let him be crucified!

The final effect of this moral collapse in California is yet to play out. We probably should remember, though, that the Jerusalem mob also cried out His blood be upon us and upon our children! At least they understood that if they were wrong, there would and should be dreadful consequences. There's a certain defiant honesty in that which leaves them with just the barest shred of honor.

Of course, they didn't really think anything would happen to them. They went back to their homes and workshops, taverns and brothels. They quickly forgot the inconvenient but innocent itinerant preacher from Nazareth, and what they had done to him.

Nothing happened for forty years or so. Then the Romans razed Jerusalem, massacred most of its people, and sold the remnant into slavery.

Defending the Faith when the clergy won't

Most faithful Catholics have encountered priests and bishops who either won't defend Catholic doctrine and practice, or who disagree with it themselves and argue against it. What's to be done about it?

Many appear to argue that because priests and bishops are consecrated men holding positions that deserve respect, it's therefore wrong to point out ways they aren't doing their jobs right -- preaching incorrect or incomplete doctrine from the pulpit, substituting their own words for the words of the Liturgy, taking public stands that run counter to Church teaching, failing to speak up when popular culture announces its almost-daily new attack on the truth.

I disagree with that attitude. Laity surely have to avoid being genuinely disrespectful to the clergy's positions and legitimate functions, yes. Heck it's because we respect those functions that we're bothered when they don't do them! When men in such positions act unworthily, they must be countered, corrected if possible, or pushed out if correction fails.

Priests are there to be good shepherds of their flocks. If a cowardly shepherd hides behind a rock when the wolves show up, the sheep who haven't gotten eaten (this time, that is) have a right to complain to the boss shepherd and expect him at least to chastise the coward, or remove him and put another, better shepherd in his place. If a perverted shepherd is actually in cahoots with the wolves because he's acquired a taste for rack of lamb, all the more do the sheep have a right to bleat out their justified outrage.

If the clerical sex-abuse scandal told us laity anything, surely it told us not to trust that everything's being taken care of.