Saturday, June 29, 2013

"The non-ordination of non-Catholic non-priests"

Phil Lawler over at takes note of a newspaper story that leads off with a remark about how there haven't been any signs that Pope Francis is thinking of allowing women to be ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Church. I've never read a better critique of the nonsensical coverage this subject always gets in the secular press than what he writes next:
So now look at the headline on the same story: “Roman Catholic women priests ordained in Falls Church.” How could that be, if women can’t be ordained as priests? Which is true: the headline or the lead sentence? They can’t both be right. 
Read on, and the confusion mounts. The ceremony took place at the First Christian Church. One of the women who claimed ordination is a chaplain at an Adventist hospital. Her husband is a Methodist, the story tells us, “but she said she couldn’t give up her Catholic faith.” Then, a few sentences later, we’re told that “the women taking part are automatically excommunicated.” So then she did give up her Catholic faith, didn’t she? 
Fellow journalists, this really isn’t that hard. You can’t be a Catholic priest if you’re not a Catholic. Since the Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests, women who claim to be priests must belong to some other organization. You can argue against Catholic teaching, and can champion the cause of these women, if you like. But the principle of non-contradiction still applies.
So, when you read of the next bogus "ordination" of "womenpriests" in your local newspaper, write to the Editor, and use Mr. Lawler's approach to assert sound Catholic doctrine. In the struggle between truth and falsehood, it's time for lay Catholics to strike the blows that must be struck.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

But to heck with marriage! Immigration is the most pressing issue!

Catholic News Agency (CNA) reports that Archbishop Gomez tells us how "immigration tests America's identity, and how it is 'the most pressing issue that we face in American public life."

In the light of today's refusal by the U. S. Supreme Court to validate the efforts of the American people to hold to the definition of marriage which the Catholic Church itself teaches, Archbishop Gomez' assertion seems downright silly. On every level — moral, political, cultural — the defense of marriage is far more important than giving illegal immigrants a "path to citizenship" in the country they broke into.

One more reason not to give up has the best take on things so far:

What a morning. Time to exhale. 

What you are reading in the news is not the whole story. 

Moments ago the Supreme Court handed down two very narrow decisions. Both of them were wrong. But the marriage fight is far from over. ...

In essence, the Court invalidated a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and rejected the right of the people to defend a law passed by millions of citizens in California. The Court ducked the question of whether Proposition 8 in California is constitutional – and most importantly, did NOT create a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. 

States that have protected marriage and those that seek to do so in the future cannot be stopped. 

The Court did disenfranchise millions of voters with its decision on Proposition 8. Five Supreme Court justices effectively dismissed the votes of millions of citizens who twice voted to protect marriage. Nevertheless, the record in California is now plain: the people voted to protect marriage, but reckless politicians refused to respect the right of the people and enforce the law. 

What is left is a single decision by a district court judge that applies to two couples. The legal fight to clarify what happens next will be critical and will be heavily contested by defenders of marriage in the courts. Same-sex marriage advocates touting immediate statewide gay marriage in California are misleading the public. 

Today’s decision striking down portions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was limited to only those same-sex "marriages" already recognized in the states that allow same-sex marriage. 

Also, remember that other parts of DOMA protect states from being forced to recognize same-sex marriage in other states. That portion of the law was not challenged and remains in force – and in some ways was strengthened by today’s decision. 

Thus, while today’s decisions were very disappointing, they do not represent a watershed moment for marriage as many are suggesting. Same-sex marriage advocates did not get what they wanted, namely a “Roe v. Wade” for same-sex marriage. 

We have a clear path forward to protect marriage and respond to these rulings, in Congress and in the states, and in the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens. ... 

The debate on marriage lives on and is up to us. 

Why Prop 8 should have been clearly upheld

Randy Thomasson of made these points earlier today:
The justices had a simple question before them, and the answer is also simple when you abide by the written Constitution.
  • First, marriage is not in the U.S. Constitution. 
  • Second, the 14th Amendment, which is not about marriage but about race, and not about couples but individuals, does not apply to Prop. 8. 
  • Third, the 10th Amendment recognizes states have powers that are not federal powers and that are not prohibited by the Constitution. 
  • Fourth, Article IV, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a republican form of government to each state, where a written constitution is the supreme law of the state. 
  • Fifth, the California Constitution contains Proposition 8 as Article 1, Section 7.5. 
Therefore, Prop. 8 should have been upheld.
But we live in an era in which many believe the Constitution must be "living," by which they mean that parts of it which stand in the way of their desires must be discarded or ignored; and that parts which have never before been recognized as pertaining to a situation suddenly develop "penumbras" (a phrase used in the Roe v. Wade decision) in which vast new meanings can be found.

One more thing: by ruling that the plaintiffs had no standing although California officials had abandoned their sworn duty to defend Proposition 8, the Court has effectively nullified the power of the state initiative. A hostile Governor can now say openly to the people of his state, "It doesn't matter what laws you enact by initiative. My allies will get a judge to declare it unconstitutional, and then I and my government will refuse to defend it."

Good news: Prop 8 not struck down

From Anthony Pugno, general counsel for the Proposition 8 Legal Defense Fund, about this morning's Supreme Court decision:
It is widely being mis-reported that the Court ruled against Prop 8. IT DID NOT! 
Rather, the Court said it could not reach a decision because California government officials refused to defend the law. So it did not rule on Prop 8's validity. 
In doing so, the Court also nullified the Ninth Circuit's ruling against Prop 8, which is a great victory in itself! 
So, the voter-passed Constitutional Amendment to protect man-woman marriage remains the law of the land in California, because only an appellate court can strike down a voter proposition statewide.
It would have been tremendously encouraging to have had the Court clearly affirm the right of Californians to defend the indispensable institution of marriage. We didn't get that. But for us troops on the ground, our orders stay the same: continue the fight to preserve marriage — in our parishes, in our families, among our co-workers and friends.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Cdl. O'Malley uses the business end of the crozier reports that Cardinal O'Malley of Boston has forbidden a dissident Austrian priest to speak at a parish in his diocese. Good going, Cardinal. That shepherd's crook you've got is not just to nudge the sheep gently, but to take a mighty whack at the wolves trying to get into the sheepfold. Encore!

To repeat a metaphor I've used many times before: If a Chevy dealer asked to use a local Ford showroom to make a sales presentation, what Ford dealer in his or her right mind would let them? No real Chevy dealer would even have the chutzpah to ask. But for some reason, people who want to tear down the Catholic Church, and remake its practices closer to their hearts' desire, never seem to lack for it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Unsolicited advice from fools, episode 9,538

We now get advice to our Church from the renowned theologian and peanut farmer Jimmy Carter, as recorded here:
I think there’s a slow, very slow, move around the world to give women equal rights in the eyes of God [Note the phrasing: we are the ones in charge of what rights women have in the eyes of God]. What has been the case for many centuries is that the great religions, the major religions, have discriminated against women in a very abusive fashion and set an example for the rest of society to treat women as secondary citizens. In a marriage or in the workplace or wherever, they are discriminated against. And I think the great religions have set the example for that, by ordaining, in effect, that women are not equal to men in the eyes of God. [See how deftly he shifts his ground from talking about equal rights, which are enjoyed by people who can be quite different from each other, to equal in the sense of being the same. We might as well say, "Everyone has red hair in the eyes of God."] This has been done and still is done by the Catholic Church ever since the third century, when the Catholic Church ordained that a woman cannot be a priest for instance but a man can [Unfortunately for Jimmy, there's no evidence that women were ordained as bishops or priests in the early Church, only that they held positions of leadership — as is the case today, when women dominate the executive positions in most Catholic dioceses]. A woman can be a nurse or a teacher but she can’t be a priest. [Jimmy makes the ubiquitous mistake of seeing the priesthood as just another job].
So there you have it: a former leader of the richest, most powerful country in the world, unafraid to criticize an institution he demonstrably does not understand. Time magazine, of course, fawns.

Wait a minute, though. I thought that Protestants thought we Catholics were bad because we venerated a woman, the Virgin Mary, too much. And what about St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Siena, and St. Therese of Lisieux, all of whom have been recognized as Doctors of the Church, right alongside St. Jerome, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine? What about the legions of faithful Christian women who have been recognized as Saints throughout the centuries? Is all that to count for nothing because an ignorant Georgia pol hasn't learned how our Church actually sees its priesthood?

Yeah, probably, at least if you're on the staff of Time.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cold comfort

Phil Lawler at the estimable tries to reassure us that we needn't worry about Pope Francis' reputation for off-the-cuff remarks that cause a stir.
I understand the concerns about off-the-cuff papal remarks. Remarks by the Holy Father could easily be misunderstood, for several reasons:
  • because he does not have a cadre of speechwriters screening each sentence for potential trouble;
  • because he is usually speaking in Italian, and although he is fluent in that language it is not his mother tongue, so he may not be aware of every nuance; and
  • because his remarks are reported and interpreted to the world by journalists who do not have a fundamental understanding of the Catholic faith.
I really hope he's right. But when I re-read his assurances, I just get more worried. Look at what is admitted:

  • that the Pope often speaks without careful preparation; 
  • that by doing so in Italian, he compounds the problem and risks saying things that aren't even what he means; 
  • and that these unprepared, unintended remarks will be pounced upon by ignorant or even hostile journalists who will spread even more confusion among the faithful, a fact that Pope Francis could hardly be unaware of.
But we're told not to worry. Why?
Should we be worried, then, about the possibility of some terrible papal gaffe? I don’t think so. Pope Francis is a very intelligent man, and he was chosen by his fellow cardinals to be Roman Pontiff because they recognized his sound pastoral judgment.
 So we're not to worry because Pope Francis is very intelligent, and his fellow cardinals think he has sound pastoral judgment. Well, I'm sure he's smart. But I think it would be easy to make a case that his very carelessness on the three points Mr. Lawler presents is evidence of poor pastoral judgment. I'd even venture to say that such behavior would get any CEO in the world fired. And the CEO's of the world only deal in money; the Pope is responsible for souls. Lots of them.

So I pray hard for this Pope, and for Mr. Lawler too, in hopes that he will end up being right, and that he'll be more convincing next time.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

No wonder we're in trouble...

Last night, I was talking with a longtime prominent member of our parish, a man in his sixties who has served on many committees and held important volunteer leadership positions, and is a member of a prominent Catholic men's organization which I won't name.

At one point, I happened to say that I was very interested in apologetics.

He said, "What's apologetics?"