In defense of the Four Cardinals, by Bishop Athanasius Schneider

November 29, 2016

The following post was published at Rorate Caeli on Nov. 23, and is written by His Excellency Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Permission has been given for it to be reproduced. BCI has had the opportunity to hear Bishop Schneider speak and to meet him, and we are highly supportive of him and his courage in writing this piece. Very shortly, we will give you a way to share this Cardinal O’Malley and other bishops.

“We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor. 13: 8)

A Prophetic Voice of Four Cardinals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church

Out of “deep pastoral concern,” four Cardinals of the Holy Roman Catholic Church, His Eminence Joachim Meisner, Archbishop emeritus of Cologne (Germany), His Eminence Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop emeritus of  Bologna (Italy), His Eminence Raymond Leo Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and His Eminence Walter Brandmüller, President emeritus of the Pontifical Commission of Historical Sciences, have published on November 14, 2016, the text of five questions, called dubia (Latin for “doubts”), which previously on September 19, 2016, they sent to the Holy Father and to Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, along with an accompanying letter. The Cardinals ask Pope Francis to clear up “grave disorientation and great confusion” concerning the interpretation and practical application, particularly of chapter VIII, of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia and its passages relating to admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments and the Church’s moral teaching.

In their statement entitled “Seeking Clarity: A Plea to Untie the Knots in Amoris Laetitia,” the Cardinals say that to “many — bishops, priests, faithful — these paragraphs allude to or even explicitly teach a change in the discipline of the Church with respect to the divorced who are living in a new union.” Speaking so, the Cardinals have merely stated real facts in the life of the Church. These facts are demonstrated by pastoral orientations on behalf of several dioceses and by public statements of some bishops and cardinals, who affirm that in some cases divorced and remarried Catholics can be admitted to Holy Communion even though they continue to use the rights reserved by Divine law to validly married spouses.

In publishing a plea for clarity in a matter that touches the truth and the sanctity simultaneously of the three sacraments of Marriage, Penance, and the Eucharist, the Four Cardinals only did their basic duty as bishops and cardinals, which consists in actively contributing so that the revelation transmitted through the Apostles might be guarded sacredly and might be faithfully interpreted. It was especially the Second Vatican Council that reminded all the members of the college of bishops as legitimate successors of the Apostles of their obligation, according to which “by Christ’s institution and command they have to be solicitous for the whole Church, and that this solicitude, though it is not exercised by an act of jurisdiction, contributes greatly to the advantage of the universal Church. For it is the duty of all bishops to promote and to safeguard the unity of faith and the discipline common to the whole Church” (Lumen gentium, 23; cf. also Christus Dominus, 5-6).

In making a public appeal to the Pope, bishops and cardinals should be moved by genuine collegial affection for the Successor of Peter and the Vicar of Christ on earth, following the teaching of Vatican Council II (cf. Lumen gentium, 22); in so doing they render “service to the primatial ministry” of the Pope (cf. Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 13).

The entire Church in our days has to reflect upon the fact that the Holy Spirit has not in vain inspired Saint Paul to write in the Letter to the Galatians about the incident of his public correction of Peter. One has to trust that Pope Francis will accept this public appeal of the Four Cardinals in the spirit of the Apostle Peter, when St Paul offered him a fraternal correction for the good of the whole Church. May the words of that great Doctor of the Church, St Thomas Aquinas, illuminate and comfort us all: “When there is a danger for the faith, subjects are required to reprove their prelates, even publicly. Since Paul, who was subject to Peter, out of the danger of scandal, publicly reproved him. And Augustine comments: “Peter himself gave an example to superiors by not disdaining to be corrected by his subjects when it occurred to them that he had departed from the right path” (Summa theol., II-II, 33, 4c).

Pope Francis often calls for an outspoken and fearless dialogue between all members of the Church in matters concerning the spiritual good of souls. In the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris laetitia, the Pope speaks of a need for “open discussion of a number of doctrinal, moral, spiritual, and pastoral questions. The thinking of pastors and theologians, if faithful to the Church, honest, realistic and creative, will help us to achieve greater clarity” (n. 2). Furthermore, relationships at all levels within the Church must be free from a climate of fear and intimidation, as Pope Francis has requested in his various pronouncements.

In light of these pronouncements of Pope Francis and the principle of dialogue and acceptance of legitimate plurality of opinions, which was fostered by the documents of the Second Vatican Council, the unusually violent and intolerant reactions on behalf of some bishops and cardinals against the calm and circumspect plea of the Four Cardinals cause great astonishment. Among such intolerant reactions one could read affirmations such as, for instance: the four Cardinals are witless, naive, schismatic, heretical, and even comparable to the Arian heretics.

Such apodictic merciless judgments reveal not only intolerance, refusal of dialogue, and irrational rage, but demonstrate also a surrender to the impossibility of speaking the truth, a surrender to relativism in doctrine and practice, in faith and life. The above-mentioned clerical reaction against the prophetic voice of the Four Cardinals parades ultimately powerlessness before the eyes of the truth. Such a violent reaction has only one aim: to silence the voice of the truth, which is disturbing and annoying the apparently peaceful nebulous ambiguity of these clerical critics.

The negative reactions to the public statement of the Four Cardinals resemble the general doctrinal confusion of the Arian crisis in the fourth century. It is helpful to all to quote in the situation of the doctrinal confusion in our days some affirmations of Saint Hilary of Poitiers, the “Athanasius of the West”.

“You [the bishops of Gaul] who still remain with me faithful in Christ did not give way when threatened with the onset of heresy, and now by meeting that onset you have broken all its violence. Yes, brethren, you have conquered, to the abundant joy of those who share your faith: and your unimpaired constancy gained the double glory of keeping a pure conscience and giving an authoritative example” (Hil. De Syn., 3).

“Your [the bishops of Gaul] invincible faith keeps the honourable distinction of conscious worth and, content with repudiating crafty, vague, or hesitating action, safely abides in Christ, preserving the profession of its liberty. For since we all suffered deep and grievous pain at the actions of the wicked against God, within our boundaries alone is communion in Christ to be found from the time that the Church began to be harried by disturbances such as the expatriation of bishops, the deposition of priests, the intimidation of the people, the threatening of the faith, and the determination of the meaning of Christ’s doctrine by human will and power. Your resolute faith does not pretend to be ignorant of these facts or profess that it can tolerate them, perceiving that by the act of hypocritical assent it would bring itself before the bar of conscience” (Hil. De Syn., 4).

“I have spoken what I myself believed, conscious that I owed it as my soldier’s service to the Church to send to you in accordance with the teaching of the Gospel by these letters the voice of the office which I hold in Christ. It is yours to discuss, to provide and to act, that the inviolable fidelity in which you stand you may still keep with conscientious hearts, and that you may continue to hold what you hold now” (Hil. De Syn., 92).

The following words of Saint Basil the Great, addressed to the Latin Bishops, can be in some aspects applied to the situation of those who in our days ask for doctrinal clarity, including our Four Cardinals: “The one charge which is now sure to secure severe punishment is the careful keeping of the traditions of the Fathers. We are not being attacked for the sake of riches, or glory, or any temporal advantages. We stand in the arena to fight for our common heritage, for the treasure of the sound faith, derived from our Fathers. Grieve with us, all you who love the brethren, at the shutting of the mouths of our men of true religion, and at the opening of the bold and blasphemous lips of all that utter unrighteousness against God. The pillars and foundation of the truth are scattered abroad. We, whose insignificance has allowed of our being overlooked, are deprived of our right of free speech” (Ep. 243, 2.4).

Today those bishops and cardinals, who ask for clarity and who try to fulfill their duty in guarding sacredly and faithfully interpreting the transmitted Divine Revelation concerning the Sacraments of Marriage and the Eucharist, are no longer exiled as it was with the Nicene bishops during the Arian crisis. Contrary to the time of the Arian crisis, today, as wrote Rudolf Graber, the bishop of Ratisbone, in 1973, exile of the bishops is replaced by hush-up strategies and by slander campaigns (cf. Athanasius und die Kirche unserer Zeit, Abensberg 1973, p. 23).

Another champion of the Catholic faith during the Arian crisis was Saint Gregory Nazianzen. He wrote the following striking characterization of the behavior of the majority of the shepherds of the Church in those times. This voice of the great Doctor of the Church should be a salutary warning for the bishops of all times: “Surely the pastors have done foolishly; for, excepting a very few, who either on account of their insignificance were passed over, or who by reason of their virtue resisted, and who were to be left as a seed and root for the springing up again and revival of Israel by the influences of the Spirit, all temporized, only differing from each other in this, that some succumbed earlier, and others later; some were foremost champions and leaders in the impiety, and others joined the second rank of the battle, being overcome by fear, or by interest, or by flattery, or, what was the most excusable, by their own ignorance” (Orat. 21, 24).

When Pope Liberius in 357 signed one of the so called formulas of Sirmium, in which he deliberately discarded the dogmatically defined expression “homo-ousios” and excommunicated Saint Athanasius in order to have peace and harmony with the Arian and Semi-Arian bishops of the East, faithful Catholics and some few bishops, especially Saint Hilary of Poitiers, were deeply shocked. Saint Hilary transmitted the letter that Pope Liberius wrote to the Oriental bishops, announcing the acceptance of the formula of Sirmium and the excommunication of Saint Athanasius. In his deep pain and dismay, Saint Hilary added to the letter in a kind of desperation the phrase: “Anathema tibi a me dictum, praevaricator Liberi” (I say to you anathema, prevaricator Liberius), cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, n. 141. Pope Liberius wanted to have peace and harmony at any price, even at the expense of the Divine truth. In his letter to the heterodox Latin bishops Ursace, Valence, and Germinius announcing to them the above-mentioned decisions, he wrote that he preferred peace and harmony to martyrdom (cf. cf. Denzinger-Schönmetzer, n. 142).

“In what a dramatic contrast stood the behavior of Pope Liberius to the following conviction of Saint Hilary of Poitiers: “We don’t make peace at the expense of the truth by making concessions in order to acquire the reputation of tolerance. We make peace by fighting legitimately according to the rules of the Holy Spirit. There is a danger to ally surreptitiously with unbelief under the beautiful name of peace.” (Hil. Ad Const., 2, 6, 2).

Blessed John Henry Newman commented on these unusual sad facts with the following wise and equilibrated affirmation: “While it is historically true, it is in no sense doctrinally false, that a Pope, as a private doctor, and much more Bishops, when not teaching formally, may err, as we find they did err in the fourth century. Pope Liberius might sign a Eusebian formula at Sirmium, and the mass of Bishops at Ariminum or elsewhere, and yet they might, in spite of this error, be infallible in their ex cathedra decisions” (The Arians of the Fourth Century, London, 1876, p. 465).

The Four Cardinals with their prophetic voice demanding doctrinal and pastoral clarity have a great merit before their own conscience, before history, and before the innumerable simple faithful Catholics of our days, who are driven to the ecclesiastical periphery, because of their fidelity to Christ’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. But above all, the Four Cardinals have a great merit in the eyes of Christ. Because of their courageous voice, their names will shine brightly at the Last Judgment. For they obeyed the voice of their conscience remembering the words of Saint Paul: “We cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth” (2 Cor 13: 8). Surely, at the Last Judgment the above-mentioned mostly clerical critics of the Four Cardinals will not have an easy answer for their violent attack on such a just, worthy, and meritorious act of these Four Members of the Sacred College of Cardinals.

The following words inspired by the Holy Spirit retain their prophetic value especially in view of the spreading doctrinal and practical confusion regarding the Sacrament of Marriage in our days: “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4: 3-5).

May all, who in our days still take seriously their baptismal vows and their priestly and episcopal promises, receive the strength and the grace of God so that they may reiterate together with Saint Hilary the words: “May I always be in exile, if only the truth begins to be preached again!” (De Syn., 78). This strength and grace we wish wholeheartedly to our Four Cardinals and as well as to those who criticize them.


Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamations: 1789-1815

November 24, 2016

BCI posted this on Thanksgiving Day in 2011 and is republishing it today. Amidst the turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, family gatherings and football games today, it occurs to BCI that some people may have never seen or may not remember Thanksgiving Day proclamations by the early U.S. presidents that reflect the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. Note the references to God, which are nowhere to be found in the presidential Thanksgiving Day proclamation by Obama this year or in any recent years. This post is rather long, so you may just want to skim, read a few sections, or grab a hot beverage to enjoy while reading.  The information was too rich with meaning for BCI to edit.  Enjoy!

Origin of Thanksgiving Day

The Pilgrims left Plymouth, England, on September 6, 1620. Their destination? The New World. Although filled with uncertainty and peril, it offered both civil and religious liberty.

For over two months, the 102 passengers braved the harsh elements of a vast storm-tossed sea. Finally, with firm purpose and a reliance on Divine Providence, the cry of “Land!” was heard.

Arriving in Massachusetts in late November, the Pilgrims sought a suitable landing place. On December 11, just before disembarking at Plymouth Rock, they signed the “Mayflower Compact”—America’s first document of civil government and the first to introduce self-government.

Pumpkins. Photo copyrighted.After a prayer service, the Pilgrims began building hasty shelters. However, unprepared for the starvation and sickness of a harsh New England winter, nearly half died before spring. Yet, persevering in prayer, and assisted by helpful Indians, they reaped a bountiful harvest the following summer.

The grateful Pilgrims then declared a three-day feast, starting on December 13, 1621, to thank God and to celebrate with their Indian friends. While this was not the first Thanksgiving in America — thanksgiving services were held in Virginia as early as 1607 — it was America’s first Thanksgiving Festival.

Artist's depiction of the first Thanksgiving. Courtesy of Films for Christ.Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet BY THE GOODNESS OF GOD WE ARE… FAR FROM WANT.”

George Washington, first President of the United States. Photo courtesy of Films for Christ.

In 1789, following a proclamation issued by President George Washington, America celebrated its first Day of Thanksgiving to God under its new constitution.

George Washington, John Adams, James Madison

THANKSGIVING DAY 1789
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor – and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be – That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks – for his kind care and protection of the People of this country previous to their becoming a Nation – for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war –for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed – for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions – to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually – to render our national government a blessing to all the People, by constantly being a government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed – to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord – To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and Us – and generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
GEORGE WASHINGTON.

THANKSGIVING DAY 1795
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – A PROCLAMATION
When we review the calamities which afflict so many other nations, the present condition of the United States affords much matter of consolation and satisfaction. Our exemption hitherto from foreign war, an increasing prospect of the continuance of that exception, the great degree of internal tranquillity we have enjoyed, the recent confirmation of that tranquillity by the suppression of an insurrection which so wantonly threatened it, the happy course of our public affairs in general, the unexampled prosperity of all classes of our citizens, are circumstances which peculiarly mark our situation with indications of the Divine beneficence toward us. In such a state of things it is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.
Deeply penetrated with this sentiment, I, George Washington, President of the United States, do recommend to all religious societies and denominations, and to all persons whomsoever, within the United States to set apart and observe Thursday, the 19th day of February next as a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, and on that day to meet together and render their sincere and hearty thanks to the Great Ruler of Nations for the manifold and signal mercies which distinguish our lot as a nation, particularly for the possession of constitutions of government which united and by their union establish liberty with order; for the preservation of our peace, foreign and domestic; for the seasonable control which has been given to a spirit of disorder in the suppression of the late insurrection, and generally for the prosperous course of our affairs, public and private; and at the same time humbly and fervently to beseech the kind Author of these blessings graciously to prolong them to us; to imprint on our hearts a deep and solemn sense of our obligations to Him for them; to teach us rightly to estimate their immense value; to preserve us from the arrogance of prosperity, and from hazarding the advantages we enjoy by delusive pursuits; to dispose us to merit the continuance of His favors by not abusing them; by our gratitude for them, and by a correspondent conduct as citizens and men; to render this country more and more a safe and propitious asylum for the unfortunate of other countries; to extend among us true and useful knowledge; to diffuse and establish habits of sobriety, order, morality, and piety, and finally, to impart all the blessings we possess, or ask for ourselves, to the whole family of mankind.
In testimony whereof I have caused the seal of the United States of America to be affixed to these presents, and signed the same with my hand.
Done at the city of Philadelphia, the 1st day of January, 1795, and of the Independence of the United States of America the nineteenth.
By the President : GEORGE WASHINGTON.

A DAY OF FASTING & HUMILIATION (NOT THANKSGIVING!) 1798
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES – A PROCLAMATION
As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed; and as this duty, at all times incumbent, is so especially in seasons of difficulty or of danger, when existing or threatening calamities, the just judgments of God against prevalent iniquity, are a loud call to repentance and reformation; and as the United States of America are at present placed in a hazardous and afflictive situation by the unfriendly disposition, conduct, and demands of a foreign power, evinced by repeated refusals to receive our messengers of reconciliation and peace, by depredations on our commerce, and the infliction of injuries on very many of our fellow-citizens while engaged in their lawful business on the seas – under these considerations it has appeared to me that the duty of imploring the mercy and benediction of Heaven on our country demands at this time a special attention from its inhabitants.
I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens of these States, abstaining on that day from their customary worldly occupations, offer their devout addresses to the Father of Mercies agreeably to those forms or methods which they have severally adopted as the most suitable and becoming; that all religious congregations do, with the deepest humility, acknowledge before God the manifold sins and transgressions with which we are justly chargeable as individuals and as a nation, beseeching Him at the same time, of His infinite grace, through the Redeemer of the World, freely to remit all our offenses, and to incline us by His Holy Spirit to that sincere repentance and reformation which may afford us reason to hope for his inestimable favor and heavenly benediction; that it be made the subject of particular and earnest supplication that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it; that our civil and religious privileges may be preserved inviolate and perpetuated to the latest generations; that our public councils and magistrates may be especially enlightened and directed at this critical period; that the American people may be united in those bonds of amity and mutual confidence and inspired with that vigor and fortitude by which they have in times past been so highly distinguished and by which they have obtained such invaluable advantages; that the health of the inhabitants of our land may be preserved, and their agriculture, commerce, fisheries, arts, and manufactures be blessed and prospered; that the principles of genuine piety and sound morality may influence the minds and govern the lives of every description of our citizens and that the blessings of peace, freedom, and pure religion may be speedily extended to all the nations of the earth.
And finally, I recommend that on the said day the duties of humiliation and prayer be accompanied by fervent thanksgiving to the Bestower of Every Good Gift, not only for His having hitherto protected and preserved the people of these United States in the independent enjoyment of their religious and civil freedom, but also for having prospered them in a wonderful progress of population, and for conferring on them many and great favors conducive to the happiness and prosperity of a nation.
Given under my hand the seal of the United States of America, at Philadelphia, this 23d day of March, A.D. 1798, and of the Independence of the said States the twenty-second.
By the President : JOHN ADAMS.

A DAY OF FASTING & HUMILIATION (NOT THANKSGIVING!) 1799
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION
As no truth is more clearly taught in the Volume of Inspiration, nor any more fully demonstrated by the experience of all ages, than that a deep sense and a due acknowledgment of the governing providence of a Supreme Being and of the accountableness of men to Him as the searcher of hearts and righteous distributer of rewards and punishments are conducive equally to the happiness and rectitude of individuals and to the well-being of communities; as it is also most reasonable in itself that men who are made capable of social acts and relations, who owe their improvements to the social state, and who derive their enjoyments from it, should, as a society, make their acknowledgments of dependence and obligation to Him who hath endowed them with these capacities and elevated them in the scale of existence by these distinctions; as it is likewise a plain dictate of duty and a strong sentiment of nature that in circumstances of great urgency and seasons of imminent danger earnest and particular supplications should be made to Him who is able to defend or to destroy; as, moreover, the most precious interests of the people of the United States are still held in jeopardy by the hostile designs and insidious acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them of those principles, subversive of the foundations of all religious, moral, and social obligations, that have produced incalculable mischief and misery in other countries; and as, in fine, the observance of special seasons for public religious solemnities is happily calculated to aver the evils which we ought to deprecate and to excite to the performance of the duties which we ought to discharge by calling and fixing the attention of the people at large to the momentous truths already recited, by affording opportunity to teach and inculcate them by animating devotion and giving to it the character of a national act :
For these reasons I have thought proper to recommend, and I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain as far as may be from their secular occupations, devote the time to the sacred duties of religion in public and in private; that they call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that “righteousness exalteth a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people”; that He would turn us from our transgressions and turn His displeasure from us; that He would withhold us from unreasonable discontent, from disunion, faction, sedition, and insurrection; that He would preserve our country from the desolating sword; that He would save our cities and towns from a repetition of those awful pestilential visitations under which they have lately suffered so severely, and that the health of our inhabitants generally may be precious in His sight; that He would favor us with fruitful seasons and so bless the labors of the husbandman as that there may be food in abundance for man and beast; that He would prosper our commerce, manufactures, and fisheries, and give success to the people in all their lawful industry and enterprise; that He would smile on our colleges, academies, schools, and seminaries of learning, and make them nurseries of sound science, morals, and religion; that He would bless all magistrates, from the highest to the lowest, give them the true spirit of their station, make them a terror to evil doers and a praise to them that do well; that He would preside over the councils of the nation at this critical period, enlighten them to a just discernment of the public interest, and save them from mistake, division, and discord; that He would make succeed our preparations for defense and bless our armaments by land and by sea; that He would put an end to the effusion of human blood and the accumulation of human misery among the contending nations of the earth by disposing them to justice, to equity, to benevolence, and to peace; and that he would extend the blessings of knowledge, of true liberty, and of pure and undefiled religion throughout the world.
And I do also recommend that with these acts of humiliation, penitence, and prayer, fervent thanksgiving to the Author of All Good be united for the countless favors which He is still continuing to the people of the United States, and which render their condition as a nation eminently happy when compared with the lot of others.
Given, etc.
JOHN ADAMS

THANKSGIVING DAY 1814
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION
The two Houses of the National Legislature having by a joint resolution expressed their desire that in the present time of public calamity and war a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States as a day of public humiliation and fasting and of prayer to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessing on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace, I have deemed it proper by this proclamation to recommend that Thursday, the 12th of January next, be set apart as a day on which all may have an opportunity of voluntarily offering at the same time in their respective religious assemblies their humble adoration to the Great Sovereign of the Universe, of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance and amendment. They will be invited by the same solemn occasion to call to mind the distinguished favors conferred on the American people in the general health which has been enjoyed, in the abundant fruits of the season, in the progress of the arts instrumental to their comfort, their prosperity, and their security, and in the victories which have so powerfully contributed to the defense and protection of our country, a devout thankfulness for all which ought to be mingled with their supplications to the Beneficent Parent of the Human Race that He would be graciously pleased to pardon all their offenses against Him; to support and animate them in the discharge of their respective duties; to continue to them the precious advantages flowing from political institutions so auspicious to their safety against dangers from abroad, to their tranquillity at home, and to their liberties, civil and religious; and that He would in a special manner preside over the nation in its public councils and constituted authorities, giving wisdom to its measures and success to its arms in maintaining its rights and in overcoming all hostile designs and attempts against it; and, finally, that by inspiring the enemy with dispositions favorable to a just and reasonable peace its blessings may be speedily and happily restores.
Given at the city of Washington, the 16th day of November, 1814, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-eighth.
JAMES MADISON

THANKSGIVING DAY 1815
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA – A PROCLAMATION

The senate and House of Representatives of the United States have by a joint resolution signified their desire that a day may be recommended to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity as a day of thanksgiving and of devout acknowledgments to Almighty God for His great goodness manifested in restoring to them the blessing of peace.
No people ought to feel greater obligations to celebrate the goodness of the Great Disposer of Events of the Destiny of Nations than the people of the United States. His kind providence originally conducted them to one of the best portions of the dwelling place allotted for the great family of the human race. He protected and cherished them under all the difficulties and trials to which they were exposed in their early days. Under His fostering care their habits, their sentiments, and their pursuits prepared them for a transition in due time to a state of independence and self-government. In the arduous struggle by which it was attained they were distinguished by multiplied tokens of His benign interposition. During the interval which succeeded He reared them into the strength and endowed them with the resources which have enabled them to assert their national rights, and to enhance their national character in another arduous conflict, which is now so happily terminated by a peace and reconciliation with those who have been our enemies. And to the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land.
It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that the second Thursday in April next be set apart as a day on which the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assembles unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.
Given at the city of Washington on the 4th day of March, A.D. 1815, and of the Independence of the United States the thirty-ninth.
JAMES MADISON


A Visit from St. Pio to Boston

November 16, 2016

(Today’s post comes from a BCI reader)

The recent visit of the heart of St. Pio of Pietrelcina to our fair city prompted a group of well-placed local clerics to wonder what might have transpired had the living, breathing “Padre Pio” visited – and even sought faculties to minister to the faithful of the Archdiocese.

The scene: A conference room in the chancery of the (fictional) Archdiocese of Brainstorm, located in a strip mall in a suburb of a large East Coast city. The Archbishop and some of his collaborators in ministry are meeting with Padre Pio:

His Humility, the Cardinal Archbishop of Brainstorm: Welcome, Padre Pio to our Pastoral Center. It’s a real joy to have you here with us. As you know, we have some slight concerns about your ministry here in our Archdiocese of Brainstorm.

Padre Pio: Thank you, Your Humility. What a large building you have here. As you know, my goal is simply to serve my Divine Master.

Fr. Jim Ravin’ [Episcopal Vicar for Conversions]: If I may speak, I always wanted to meet you Padre Pio. I’m Fr. Jim Ravin’. I’m one of His Humility’s Experts. I took a few workshops on psychology and I was the head of the St. John Vianney Institute. You must have heard of my counterpart, Msgr Edward Arsenault. Like me, he was an expert in Ministry-Today. I share his expertise and I was paid loads of money for my expertise. The Cardinal wants you to listen to me.

Padre Pio: Speak what you will.

Fr. Byrnie Paragon [Episcopal Vicar for Clergy]: Excuse me. Certainly it’s an honor for all of us to gather here. I think it’s important that, while we express our concerns, we should say that we are delighted to meet you.

Padre Pio: I am listening…

Fr. Ravin’: I believe that our Secretary for Ministerial Personnel has some words. That’s Fr. Bobby. Baloney. He’s another expert, almost as smart as me.

Fr. Bobby Baloney [First Secretary, Ministry of Personnel]: Thank you, Fr. Ravin’. Yes, Padre Pio. Let’s talk about some issues that have been raised. First, people say you have the wounds of St. Francis of Assisi. In our modern times, we do not believe that there is really any proof that St. Francis of Assisi ever existed. So we are concerned about you promoting a devotion to a man who never existed.

Padre Pio: Your Humility? Aren’t you a Franciscan?

HH: Well, yes, but I am a Franciscan of the 1970s. I think, um.. well, um…. Fr. Baloney, what is your assessment with regard to your field?

Fr. Baloney: I think certainly, Padre Pio, it’s clearly our consensus that you stop talking so much about “Francis” – I mean this “Saint Francis of Assisi”, not the Holy Father Pope Francis the First.

Fr. Ravin’: And we are also very concerned about your celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. The Cardinal desires, and I would add Pope Francis also desires, that we use our liturgies to express strong and active welcome to those on the margins, like Muslims, adulterers, and homosexualists. As you know, the Holy Thursday Liturgy has been modified to recognize the faith of our Islamic sisters and brothers. The problem with the Traditional Latin Mass is that it excludes so many of these people. We cannot welcome nor tolerate Catholics who want to celebrate this liturgical form. Even worse, when you celebrate it, you encourage some of our newly ordained priests to do so. We will not tolerate that. We simply cannot, in our modern Church, encourage Catholics who like this Latin liturgy. It’s too risky.

Fr. Baloney: {Interrupting} Padre Pio, if I may piggy-back on what Fr. Ravin’ has said, there is another concern. We hear that you have lots of people seeking you out for spiritual direction. It’s been reported that you challenge people to pray more and change their life. Here in the Brainstorm Presbyterate, we’ve come to the consensus that it’s very unwise to lead people in spiritual direction. I myself am a certified spiritual director. I took workshops and I’m an approved professional spiritual director for the Archdiocese of Brainstorm. I’m asking you to stop leading people in spiritual direction. We in Brainstorm don’t like to lead people. We walk with them and accompany them. We should never tell people to pray or to change their lives. Honestly, I don’t like to pray either. I like looking at trees and animals, but you’re telling people to pray the Rosary and have adoration. We cannot have this. You are not certified to give spiritual direction here in the Archdiocese of Brainstorm, so you must stop.

Padre Pio: But, Father, the people need..

Fr. Baloney {interrupting}: No! That’s your problem. I think we can all agree that people don’t need anything. And it’s our consensus and the will of the Cardinal that you cease from spiritual direction.

Padre Pio: Your Humility?… 

HH: Well, I think that you can continue…

Fr. Ravin’: {interrupting}: To listen to our consensus. What the Cardinal is trying to say is that you can continue serving in the Archdiocese, but you cannot do spiritual direction, hear confessions, say Mass, or preach. We need to conform to our Professional Standards. That’s what the Cardinal’s Board of Geniuses is all about.

Fr. Paragon: Certainly I agree with this board, and I think it’s important for us to let you know, Padre Pio, that we’re here to help you. If there is any way we can assist your integration into the Archdiocese of Brainstorm, we will offer whatever help we can. That’s what this meeting is about.

Padre Pio: But… Your Humility, what about Pope Benedict?

Fr. Paul Swooper [First Secretary, Ministry for the Five Year Plan]: {impatieltly} He’s done. And we are moving into a New Church now. Isn’t that right, Your Humility?

HH: Well, our Pastoral Plan calls us to lead our parishes into the future. Fr Swooper, perhaps you should tell Padre Pio about Process?

Fr. Swooper: Yes, Process. It’s all about Process. Your preaching and your liturgical preference are just too different. We cannot tolerate these deviations from the norm in our Archdiocese, especially in our Presbyterate. It interferes with our Process.

Fr. Baloney: Guys are not into this sort of thing. You’re different, Padre Pio, and that is a huge problem. It’s like you have no filter. We’ve even heard you preaching against sin in such a way that many guys were hurt by your sermons. You obsess about priests being holy, and I want you to know that many guys were offended and felt belittled by that. One of our hero-Monsignors was deeply hurt. He sent me a text message this morning which reads: “How dare this man tell ME to turn away from sin. That is so unwelcoming and offensive! No one will tell me to turn away from sin! Not the police and certainly not priests! Stop this Padre Pio!!”

Padre Pio: But the Gospel is clear…

Fr. Baloney: {Interrupting} Our consensus is clearer. You are too rigid and intolerant. In our modern times, our modern church doesn’t obsess over sin. I think we all agree that this is what Pope Francis has been saying. Padre Pio, you need to be more tolerant of different lifestyles in the Presbyterate of Brainstorm.

Fr. Swooper: And the Process, the Pastoral Plan, I think, calls us to be welcoming. We want to welcome everyone, no matter their walk of life.

Fr. Ravin’: That is a good point. Well said.

Padre Pio: However, Fr Ravin’, you suggested that you will not welcome Catholics who like the Traditional Latin Mass, or who pray the Rosary, or…

Fr. Ravin’: {interrupting} You don’t understand. Are you listening? We’re all about welcoming in our New Church. But in order to be part of the team you have to conform to the standards of the Presbyterate of Brainstorm, or we can’t welcome you here. I think we can all agree this is the point of our meeting, wouldn’t you say, Your Humility?


HH:
Well, we want a consensus. Our Bishops Conference believes in consensus. We are faithful to consensus, above all.

Padre Pio: I think that…

Fr. Ravin: {interrupting again} Stop. It’s not about you. It’s about consensus. And it’s the consensus of the Cardinal and his staff that you need to spend a few years in the St. John Vianney Institute. We only want to help you to adjust your thinking. Perhaps if our Curator of the Moderate was here he could help you to understand why this is correct.

Padre Pio: Your Humilty?

Fr. Baloney: Don’t bother the Cardinal, you can talk to us. We are the voice of the Cardinal, we are in charge.

Padre Pio: Your Humility? 

HH: I rely on the expertise of my experts. But, I want to add that personally…

Fr. Bob Kickem [Senior Chief of His Humility’s Secretariat]: {entering the room, sweat dripping down his forehead, fidgety, whispers to the Cardinal}: Your Humility, you’ve said way too much. Stop talking. {now raising his voice} Your Eminence, you have an airplane to catch now. You must go visit some of the airports around the world. {The Cardinal leaves the room, smiling, but looking like he feels manipulated}

Fr. Baloney: As you can see, Padre Pio, the Cardinal wants you to denounce the existence of Francis of Assisi, reject the Traditional Latin Mass, reject the pontificate of Benedict XVI, stop telling people to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel, and submit to the expertise of Fr. Jim Ravin’.

Fr. Ravin’: We will also visit a prison in New Hampshire to meet with the legendary Msgr Edward Arsenault. From within his cell, he will give us the guidance we need in dealing with you. I hope you welcome what he has to say.

Pio: But His Eminence hasn’t made a decision…

Fr. Swooper: Yes he has. We made it for him. This is our process.

{Padre Pio weeps and is led away}

A few hours hence, Frs. Baloney, Ravin’, Swooper, Paragon, and Kickem have an evening out working dinner; sharing a few laughs over fine food and good wine, They are joined by the internationally-known Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB who, in his cups, is overheard to say: “Another victory for the Brainstorm Boys!” As the evening draws to a boisterous close, they are joined by Bishops Bobby Weed and “Honest” Mark O’Canon, fresh from a conference call in the Pastoral Center.

Later that week, His Humility posts on his blog, which he typed while waiting in an airport: “we had a lovely visit from Padre Pio to our Pastoral Center.”

[N.B. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance between the characters depicted herein and e.g. the Politburo of the Soviet Union ca. 1980 or any local clerics is purely coincidental.]


Why Catholics Should Vote for Trump

November 7, 2016

Sunday Masses across the country found most parishioners not getting any pastoral advice on how to vote with a properly formed conscience. In the Archdiocese of Boston, parishioners heard or saw a letter from the Vicar General on why we should vote “No” on the question of whether to legalize marijuana in the commonwealth, but not a peep about how to even think about the choices for major elective office, including pro-abortion politicians who could damage society for generations by appointing pro-abortion judges to the Supreme Court!  Is that cowardice on the part of bishops like Cardinal O’Malley, or willful negligence?  Either explanation is BAD.

For those who have friends or family members still on the fence about whether they will vote at all, or not sure who to vote for, we are pleased to share this excellent video homily, which we think you should share with every Catholic you know.  It’s called, “Catholics Forbidden to Vote Hillary” but it also answers the important question, “Could or should Catholics Vote for Donald Trump.”  The answer is a resounding, YES!

The video runs about 13 minutes.  In case you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, here are a few excerpts:

In the last debate, this is the first time in any presidential election that there is a major candidate who aggressively insisted they would advocate abortion in most extreme circumstances.  Hillary Clinton advocates and will aggressively pursue abortion of children up to and including the time of birth–as a child is about to be born into this world, that its life can be snuffed out in the birth canal. What a monstrous position!  It is nothing short of diabolical. It is a demonic position.  And for the first time in history, we have someone who would be president arguing and insisting on this practice.

On the other hand in that same debate, in the first time in history of presidential elections in the U.S., we had a candidate who openly and aggressively insisted that he would do what he could to roll back the Supreme Court decision to legalize abortion (Roe v Wade) and he would appoint solidly pro-life candidates to the Supreme Court.

What a contrast on this single most important political issue that we face at this time!

So, can someone in good conscience, can a Catholic in good conscience vote for Hillary Clinton?  Absolutely not!  There is not enough money in this world to buy my vote for her, and not enough tortures on the face of the earth to force me to vote for anyone who advocates the positions that Hillary Clinton holds fast to.

Can a Catholic in good conscience vote for Trump, or should a Catholic vote for Trump?

Mr. Alan Keyes, former ambassador and presidential candidate, took the position in a recent local debate that as a Catholic, we should all will the reign of Christ the King on earth.  I agree. In first lesson of this Mass, St. Paul tells us that our citizenship is in heaven, and we await the fullness of His kingdom. We should will — even now in Christ’s absence on earth — that the reign of Christ be found here and now on earth.  Christ’s Church should advance as the one true religion on earth.

That means that ideally our elected and appointed officials should not just tolerate the Catholic Church but do whatever in their power to support the Catholic religion. Of course, under present circumstances and even circumstances of decades past, that ideal hasn’t been possible.  Is it feasible, practical , and possible we can elect candidates who will do precisely that?  The fact is that while we have had a few candidates over the decades, we’re never had that as a President. Even the “Catholic” JFK made clear from the get-go that no one from the Catholic Church would guide his presidential decisions.

Fact is, while we want the will of Christ to the maximum, practically speaking, the reality is is we don’t have candidates who share that vision.

So, may we vote for someone who may not fully share that vision? The answer is YES, certainly!

Does Trump fall within those individuals on the ballot for whom a good Catholic in good conscience could or should cast their vote?  The answer is YES.  Answer is yes.  Can a good Catholic vote for Trump?  Yes.  Should a good Catholic vote for Trump?  Yes.

Given his stated position on protection of unborn and right to life and given the position of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, who advocates murder of children even as they are being born, YES, Trump is a moral choice.

It is not a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. Catholic simply may not choose someone who is evil.  In this case, we have the principle of double-effect.  Trump may not be many of your 1st choice candidates, or 2nd or 3rd or 5th or 50th. But we have what we have, and there are only 2 candidates who can feasibly  win this election—Trump and Clinton.

Donald Trump is a moral choice—for what he stands for on the life of the unborn.  On other matters on which people could disagree—personal choices, personal behavior—those are covered in the double effect. We would seek to elect him, cast our vote for him, not because we support or endorse his personal flaws and failing, or even some lesser issues we might not agree with.  In casting a vote for him, the primary effect we seek is a good one: it is for the good he has promised, namely scaling back the murder of children by abortion, and it is to preclude a woman who holds a demonic position regarding unborn children from getting to the  highest office in the U.S.

Mr. Ferrara in that same discussion even went so far as to say it might be a moral imperative to vote for Donald Trump, given the alternative. He cites the comparison going back decades into the last century, when Pope Pius XII insisted, in order to slow the spread of Communism,  that Catholics given the opportunity to vote were morally obliged to vote for candidates who would oppose the spread of Godless communism, even acknowledging those candidates might be flawed and imperfect, but morally acceptable.

“The exercise of the right to vote is an act of grave responsibility…” Pope Pius XII 1946 AAS 38, 187. When there was a threat to the Church in Italy through the Communist party in 1948, Pope Pius XII said, “That in the present circumstances it is strictly obligatory for whoever has the right, man or woman, to take part in the elections. He who abstains, particularly through indolence or from cowardice, thereby commits a grave sin, a mortal offense.” AAS 40, 119

So can and should a Roman Catholic vote for Donald Trump in the upcoming election? The answer is YES.  Absolutely!  And I intend to cast my vote for him.

*       *      *      *

Two more thoughts from BCI here.  St. John Paul II said, “The promotion of the culture of life should be the highest priority in our societies…If the right to life is not defended decisively as a condition for all other rights of the person, all other references to human rights remain deceitful and illusory.” Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila recently said, “..the direct killing of innocent human life must be opposed at all times by every follower of Jesus Christ. There are no legitimate exceptions to this teaching.”  Then there is the clear threat to religious freedom for all of us with a Clinton presidency.

Pope Pius XI in an encyclical to Mexico in 1937 said: “Thus a Catholic will take care not to pass over his right to vote when the good of the Church or of the country requires it.” Firmissimam constantiam, March 28, 1937, AAS 29, 189.

If you’re a faithful Catholic, you can’t sit this one out. You must vote for the one viable candidate, Trump, who has promised to scale back the evil of abortion and prevent the diabolical destruction promised by Clinton if she gets into office. Feel free to share this anywhere you wish.


Priest: “You might not have a church to go to if you don’t vote the right way in November”

October 27, 2016

Yes, we’re been on break for a while, and just felt like it was time to come off hiatus to weigh in on the upcoming election.  Friends and family members talking about not voting at all–or in some cases actually voting for Hillary–represent a most disturbing situation.  Here’s some food for thought from LifesiteNews

NAPLES, Florida, September 23, 2016 (LifeSiteNews)—We are at a “precarious moment in our history” when churches must speak truth to power or risk the loss of a lot more than their tax statuses, former Ave Maria Law School chaplain Father Michael Orsi said in a blistering speech at a National Day of Remembrance for Aborted Children event on September 10.

Orsi said, “For too long, pastors and churches have been bullied into believing that they can say nothing political from the pulpit,” said Orsi. The regulation that is used to silence them “was a piece of spite work” against non-profits that had opposed President Lyndon Johnson, he said.

“Let me remind you: the Bible is a political document,” the priest said. “The prophets, including John the Baptist, and Jesus, lost their lives because they spoke the truth to power.”

“The Constitution is quickly being destroyed,” warned Orsi, and “unless the right choice is made in November, we may not have a court that is fair and balanced in its interpretation of the Constitution.”

“Too many of the pastors—too many, practically all—in Germany refused to speak against national socialism,” continued Orsi. “And look [at] the result: millions of Jews, pastors, priests, homosexuals, gypsies all lost their lives because everyone was afraid. What are you afraid of, a couple of bucks? Your tax-exempt status? What’s that going to do to you? Your churches may be closed anyway, because if a certain party gets elected, this certain party said, if the churches do not agree with our interpretation of women’s reproductive rights, they’ll just have to change their doctrine.”

“If a certain party gets elected, I can assure you what kind of judges are going to be on those appeals courts,” he said. And those judges will be charged with deciding whether the government may force churches and religious institutions to pay for abortion, contraception, and abortifacient drugs, he noted.

Furthermore, “I’m not going to vote for a candidate who decides that we can redefine the meaning of marriage,” proclaimed Orsi. “Our opponents believe once they destroy the family, once they destroy the churches, they can re-create society in their own image and their own likeness. That, my friends, is not just political. That is diabolical. Get it straight, for crying out loud! The devil is in this!”

“We are in a battle for the soul of America,” he said.

“Somehow, [Christians] have come to buy the story that you cannot be political in church,” said Orsi. “Let me tell you right now, oh yes, you can, and oh, yes, you better be. Because you might not have a church to go to if you don’t vote the right way in November.”

.

 


Pope Francis Feels He Can Second-Guess Jesus with Exhortation?

April 9, 2016

The long awaited apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia  hit Friday and as many have begun to observe, it would be better called the “Joy of Sex” than the “Joy of Love.”  Many people have plowed through the tome in its entirety and it is as bad as expected. The headlines that proclaim the likes of, “Pope Francis Softens Communion Ban for Divorcees” convey the scandal the exhortation is creating.

Mortal sins, such as adultery, appear to be condoned in the exhortation. In places, the document deceptively cuts and pastes excerpts from other magisterial documents in such a way that the original context is grossly distorted–for example, Amoris Laeritia selectively omits the passage from St. John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio that explains how and why divorced, remarried Catholics cannot receive the Eucharist.

However, the church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scripture, of not admitting to eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the eucharist. Besides this there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the eucharist the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

Pope Francis instead suggests he knows better what Jesus would do with respect to people committing mortal sin, rather than acknowledging and defending what Jesus actually said and did.  He says, “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, ‘always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street.”  In other words, Pope Francis thinks Jesus would not care about the salvation of souls that comes from turning away from sin and for which Our Lord died on the cross. Instead, somehow Jesus would tell sinners to just keep on committing mortal sin as long as you feel good?  The proposal coming from the Chair of Peter is scandalous and must be resisted and opposed. That any priests or bishops, including Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop Chaput and others would tell Catholics they should read this piece of garbage just furthers the scandal.

Here are a few links to articles you should read, along with excerpts.

The Shameful Document (Creative Minority Report)

In those key paragraphs (298-302) he posits that it is impossible to know anyone’s culpability for the obvious sin in which they participate, so any kind of rule is casuistry. His calls for pastoral discernment are a clear call for the internal forum solution, even though he never quite comes out and says it.  But people are already getting the message.

In another shameful section, the Pope attempts to side-step the clear teaching that by an unworthy reception of the Eucharist, one eats and drinks judgment upon one’s self.

This redefinition of “discernment of the body” is a scandalous inversion of the true meaning of the admonition. No, the Pope does come right out and deny Church teaching in this area, he skirts it and tries to distort it. It is shameful.

In my view as a whole, this document will make nobody’s life any better. It will lead nobody out of sin. At its worst and in its particulars, it will serve only to confirm people in their sin and lead priests, prelates, and others into sacrilege. Nobody will be saved by this Jesuitical word-puke, unworthy of a successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, and many souls may be lost because of it. This document is a shameful act and a grave evil.

A pastor leads his flock out of danger, this leads them to the wolves den. If you love as Jesus commanded us, you will hate this document.

Pope Francis opens door to Communion for ‘remarried’ Catholics in landmark exhortation (Lifesite News)

Pope Francis Departs from Church Teaching in New Exhortation (1 Peter 5)

…one finds the law of gradualism with regard to sinful relationships, the claim that there are “seeds” of goodness in such relationships that are objectively contrary to God’s laws, and a general tone of not speaking of sin at all with regard to those ways of living that put the soul of the persistent sinner gravely at risk of not attaining to eternal salvation.

The pope is sending a deeply troubling message: those who are living in the objective state of adultery (since they are still sacramentally and validly married to their real spouse, not the person they are living with) and have children from this second “marriage” are essentially bound to stay in this relationship, living as husband and wife (which they are not) and continuing to engage in acts proper only to spouses, and thus, adulterous in nature. Otherwise, the pope reasons, their new relationship – and the welfare of the children involved – could be put at risk! In this, Pope Francis undermines Catholic moral teaching at its core, and puts supposed practical concerns over the higher concern of the salvation of souls.

This question of access to the sacraments for the divorced and remarried is taken up again in paragraph 305:

Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.

At the end of that sentence, footnote 351 clarifies: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments,” and then refers to both Confession and the Eucharist. He writes: “I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’”

 These statements call to mind the substance of the so-called Kasper proposal. The language of the Eucharist as “not a prize” is something both Kasper and Francis have used in public statements on this topic since the Synod process began in 2014. There is no specific prescription on whether the divorced and “remarried” can have access to the sacraments in this, but one sees the opening of a door.

The second grave scandal comes in paragraph 301. In the context of the question of “discernment” for those “irregular” relationships, Pope Francis does away with the claim that those who do not live according to God’s law are living in the state of mortal sin! He says:

Hence it is [sic] can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” [to include homosexual relationships?]  situations are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values” [?], or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.

Among other mitigating factors in this regard, the pope mentions “affective immaturity” and “force of acquired habit” and “conditions of anxiety,” as well as other “psychological or social factors” that would alleviate a person’s culpability.

This statement of the pope seems to do away with any moral foundation on the question of marriage and divorce. It breaks apart the very basis of moral law, and opens the door to a lax and relativistic approach to the sanctity of marriage.

Taken together, we see that the pope is claiming that “remarried” couples who have children should continue to live as “husband” and “wife” and should not live “as brother and sister” and that all “irregular” relationships which are not in accordance with God’s laws do not, in his estimation, necessarily mean that persons in such situations are living in a state of sin. Thereby, the pope also indirectly opens the door to the admittance of all these persons to the sacraments, and, at the same time, undermines not just one, butthree sacraments: the Sacrament of Marriage, the Sacrament of Penance, and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Catholics cannot accept elements of Pope’s exhortation that threaten faith and family (Lifesite News)

Admission of the “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion

Amoris Laetitia, over the course of Chapter VIII (paragraphs 291-312), proposes a number of approaches that prepare the way for “divorced and remarried” Catholics to receive Holy Communion without true repentance and amendment of life. These paragraphs include:

  1. confused expositions of Catholic teaching on the nature and effects of mortal sin, on the imputability of sin, and on the nature of conscience;
  2. the use of ideological language in place of the Church’s traditional terminology;
  3. and the use of selective and misleading quotations from previous Church documents.

A particularly troubling example of misquotation of previous teaching is found in paragraph 298 which quotes the statement of Pope John Paul II, made in Familiaris Consortio, that there exist situations “where, for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate.” However in Amoris Laetitia the second half of Pope John Paul II’s sentence, which states that such couples “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples” (Familiaris Consortio, No. 84),  is omitted.

Furthermore, in the footnote to this misleading quotation, we read:

In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, ‘it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers’ (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 51).

The document makes reference to this erroneous view but does not explain why it is a false approach, which is namely that:

  1. All sexual acts outside of a valid marriage are intrinsically evil and it is never justifiable to commit an intrinsically evil act, even in order to achieve a good end.
  2. “Faithfulness is endangered” by acts of sexual intimacy outside of marriage but faithfulness is lived when two individuals in an invalid union refrain from sexual intimacy in fidelity to their original union, which remains valid.
  3. The quotation implies that children will suffer because their parents, with the help of divine grace, live chastely. On the contrary, such parents are giving their children an example of fidelity, chastity and trust in the power of God’s grace.

The document cites Gaudium et Spes but the passage is quoted out of context and does not support the argument made. The context makes clear that Gaudium et Spes is speaking of married Catholics, in the context of procreation, not those cohabiting in an invalid union. The full sentence is as follows:

But where the intimacy of married life is broken off, its faithfulness can sometimes be imperilled and its quality of fruitfulness ruined, for then the upbringing of the children and the courage to accept new ones are both endangered (Gaudium et Spes, No. 51).

It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that the Apostolic Exhortation is at least raising the possibility that adulterous sexual acts might in some cases be justifiable and has misquoted Gaudium et Spes as if to provide grounds for this.

The Apostolic Exhortation and the Abolishment of the Sin of Presumption

There is no other way to say this: Despite its protestations to the contrary Amoris Laetitia represents an attempt to achieve a revolution in Catholicism at the expense of the prior teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and reception of the Eucharist.
In order to achieve its aim of deconstructing the sacraments of Matrimony and the Eucharist, the tome paints the picture of sacramental marital love as a torture chamber of abuse, domination, sexism, exploitation and endless financial and emotional travails.

The sacrament of Matrimony, it is claimed, subjects its participants to the need to mutually beg constant forgiveness and afford each other mercy on an on-going basis.

Drawing upon such diverse and meaningful sources as “Eastern masters,” Erich Fromm, Martin Luther King, Babette’s Feast, and numerous and plethora of Pope Francis’s own prior statements, and, on occasion even selective quotes from the Bible, the author demands that the Church accept and not comment negatively about divorce and adultery.  This, he asserts, will minimize the frequency of those phenomena.

Moreover, despite the horrific nature of sacramental marriage which he depicts, the author nonetheless purports to make a case for encouraging those in irregular unions to become sacramentally married.  The question as to why someone “living in sin” would seek to enter into such an horrific institution is not readily answered, especially since, it would seem, the institution is no longer to be considered de facto indissoluble, even if it is, currently, theoretically de jure indissoluble. Indeed, at one point marriage is actually called a contract in the document.

Further, the so-called concept of gradualness facilitates adulterers (who are in grave sin) receiving Communion.  This is to be accomplished, depending on the facts of the situation.  But one thing is asserted strongly:  No one is to be kept away from Communion forever.

Although only the rapprochement of those in “irregular relationships” is considered, there would appear to be no rational basis for refusing to extend the logic involved to all of those in grave sin.  The reception of Communion by all grave sinners, of whatever kind, is left to the conscience of the sinner and their pastor.  This is one undoubted time bomb of a slippery slope contained in Amoris Laetitia; another is the justification for a married priesthood; and, who knows, perhaps even a gay and married priesthood.  The floodgates have opened, and who are we to judge?

Finally, no one in the congregation has a right to be scandalized by this, it would seem. Scandal and banning from Communion are perhaps only to apply to those who engage in social injustice, something for which Pope Francis unsurprisingly expresses deep disdain.

In summary, the exhortation is BAD.  Really BAD. it must be resisted and opposed. We will share some ideas on how you can do that in a subsequent post.

 

 


MA Primary: Who to Vote For?

March 1, 2016

Friends and family members have all been discussing the conundrum of who to vote for today if you are a faithful Catholic, political conservative, or both.  Here are quick thoughts from BCI.

First, we assume none of our readers would vote for anyone on the Democratic ticket, so we focus on the Republican candidates.  BCI is voting for Ted Cruz.  Here is why:

Donald Trump strikes BCI as nothing but a con-man.  His Trump University was nothing but a scam, as described here, that swindled people out of thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. And in the same way he scammed people with Trump University, he is fooling people into believing he is a conservative. This excellent article from The Federalist, “I’ll take Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump” explains why Trump would be a disaster for conservatives if he is the nominee or elected president.

“If we must have an enemy at the head of government,” Hamilton said in exasperation, “let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible.”

In other words: Better to lose to a true enemy whose policies you can fight and repudiate, rather than to a false friend whose schemes will drag you down with him. This is a painful choice, but it also embraces realism while protecting the possibility of recovery in the future. The need to live to fight another day is why conservatives should adopt a Hamilton Rule if, God forbid, the choice comes down to Hillary and Trump.

Hillary Clinton Is Despicable, But Trump Is Worse

My hands almost could not type those words, because I think Hillary Clinton is one of the worst human beings in American politics. She has few principles that I can discern, other than her firm conviction that she deserves the Oval Office for enabling and then defending her sexually neurotic husband. She lies as easily as the rest of us breathe. She has compromised national security through sheer laziness at best, and corrupt intent at worst. If elected, she will enrich Wall Street and raid the public coffers while preaching hateful doctrines of identity politics to distract America’s poor and working classes.

Morally unmoored, emotionally unstable, a crony capitalist of the worst kind, Trump will be every bit as liberal as Hillary.

But Trump will be worse. Morally unmoored, emotionally unstable, a crony capitalist of the worst kind, Trump will be every bit as liberal as Hillary—perhaps more so, given his statements over the years. He is by reflex and instinct a New York Democrat whose formal party affiliation is negotiable, as is everything about him. He has little commitment to anything but himself and his “deals,” none of which will work in favor of conservatives or their priorities.

His judicial appointments will likely be liberal friends from New York. His Great Wall of Mexico will never be built, and employers will go right on hiring cheap labor and outsourcing jobs, just as Trump does with his made-in-Mexico suits. His China Smoot-Hawley Tariff will never be implemented. His administration, led by a vulgar, aging man-child who is firmly pro-abortion, who jokes about having sex with his daughter, and brags about his wealth, will hurt the poorest and most vulnerable among us—including the unborn.

Trump Will Tar Conservatives Forever

Trump, of course, will dissemble and whine about all these eventual failures. His fans will excuse him, as they do now, but they have short attention spans and will vanish in later midterm elections and future presidential contests. His white nationalist supporters, clinging to him like lice in the fur of an angry chimp, will shake their fists along with him for a time, until they too eventually slink away. By 2020, his core constituency will be a tiny sliver of what’s left of the white working class, pathetically standing at the gates of empty factories they thought Trump would re-open.

Conservatives can recover from four, or even eight, years of Hillary Clinton. We might even flourish.

More to the point, after four years of thrashing around in the Oval Office like the ignorant boor he is, voters will no longer be able distinguish between the words “Trump,” “Republican,” “conservative,” and “buffoon.” He will obliterate Republicans further down the ticket in 2016 and 2020, smear conservatism as nothing more than his own brand of narcissism, and destroy decades of hard work, including Ronald Reagan’s legacy.

Conservatives can recover from four, or even eight, years of Hillary Clinton. We might even flourish: remember, President Obama’s cult of personality—to which Trump’s mindless fan base bears more than a little resemblance—sacrificed more than 900 Democratic seats and a passel of governorships on its altar over the past seven years. President Obama won two elections and the Democratic Party lost hundreds. If Trump’s victory means this kind of “winning,” conservatives should want no part of it.

Our Long-Awaited Goal Was Right There for Us

In the end, a Trump administration will not only avert the first chance at unified Republican government in years, but will finish off the conservative movement itself. Indeed, it is a bitter irony that some of Trump’s blind followers are willing to declare defeat at the moment of impending victory, when a complete GOP takeover of all elected branches could finally overcome the obstruction of divided government. Trump’s voters are willing to “shake up the status quo”—whatever that means—by putting an ignoramus at the head of a party and a movement he’s actually trying to destroy.

So, once Trump is clearly removed from the list, we are left with Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. By many indications, Marco Rubio has betrayed conservatives. This memo by conservative icon, Phyllis Schlafly describes how, “Rubio traded shamelessly on the affection and trust conservatives had placed in him. His deceptions about his immigration bill rivaled and exceeded Obama’s claims about disastrous Obamacare.”

We are voting our conscience and going with Ted Cruz.  That is what BCI thinks.  What do you think?


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