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?


Boston Archdiocese Income Declined $20M in Fiscal 2015; Lost $5M

February 24, 2016

With little fanfare, the Boston Archdiocese published its Fiscal 2015 financial report recently, where they reported a $20 million decline in revenue vs Fiscal 2014, and a $5 million operating loss for the year.  In addition, it should be noted that the Boston Archdiocese is unable to repay about $36 million in debt owed to St. Johns Seminary, and managed to get the seminary board to defer repayment from 2017 to 2027 with no interest charges. The annual Catholic Appeal raised $400K less in fiscal 2015 vs 2014, and spent $400K more than the previous year to do so.One third of parishes are operating in the red. Here are a few of the key points from the report.

Operating Loss (p. 12)
Operating income decreased $20.5 million from an operating income of $15.6 million in fiscal 2014 to an operating loss of $4.9 million in fiscal 2015. Revenues declined by $10.4 million, while expenses increased $10.1 million. This was explained as follows (p.8):

“Fiscal 2015 was a challenging year from a financial standpoint, with a significant decline in operating income for parishes, a deficit in central operations, and a loss in our self-insurance program. External events were a major contributor to these results. Low capital market returns impacted by concerns about a global economic slowdown, a return to a more customary level of parish bequests, and an extremely harsh winter that resulted in a number of catastrophic property insurance losses and increased utility and maintenance costs at parishes negatively impacted financial results.”

In addition, Central Operations lost $7.3 million in fiscal 2015 as compared to a $2.3 million loss in 2014.

Unable to Pay $36M in Debt
On many occasions, BCI has questioned how the Archdiocese will be able to repay the $36 million in debt to St. Johns Seminary for the property sold in 2007 in order to pay off sexual abuse settlement loans.  That debt was due to be paid in 2017. The 2015 Archdiocesan Annual Report and the 2014 Annual Report both describe how the debt payback has magically been deferred for 10 more years.  “On September 22, 2014, the St. John’s Seminary Board of Trustees voted to extend the due date of the $36.4 million note to August 23, 2027 (which was previously due on August 23, 2017).”  Such a vote presents a massive conflict of interest, as the Board of Trustees includes: Cardinal Seán O’Malley, Vicar General Bishop Peter Uglietto, and Chancellor John Straub–all of whom have an interest in not seeing the Boston Archdiocese default on the debt. But since the RCAB took the property from the Seminary and sold it out from under them, it’s an inherent conflict of interest for them to vote to defer repayment of this huge loan and charge no interest on a loan for 20 years–from 2007 until 2027.  Even in 2027, how will it be repaid?

Deception Around Paying for Clergy Sexual Abuse Settlements with Parish Funds
The lie continues here in the 2015 report. On page 20 they write, “Consistent with past practices, parish funds, money raised from the Promise for Tomorrow Campaign, the Annual Catholic Appeal and proceeds from the parish reconfiguration process are not being used to fund settlements.”  Page 21 of the report reveals the deception, which we debunked that deception two years ago in our post, “Archdiocese of Boston uses parish funds to repay sexual abuse settlement costs:

To repay the $4.8 million note, in 2013 the Boston Archdiocese transferred property from the closed Our Lady of Presentation and St. Gabriel’s parishes to the Seminary.  Here are the references in the 2013 Annual Report (p. 21):

Corporation Sole agreed to canonically transfer all of its rights, title and interest in Our Lady of Presentation Church, Rectory and parking lots and the St. Gabriel rectory and school to the Seminary. The properties have a collective appraised value of approximately $6,070,000 and a book value of $566,000.

During the year ended June 30, 2013, Corporation Sole transferred the Our Lady of Presentation property with an appraised value of $2,850000 to the Seminary to discharge a portion of the note. In accordance with the MOU, the Seminary agreed to forgive the remaining note balance of $1,038,000 which is included in gain on settlement of note payable in the statement of activities.

Debt
Long-term debt is about $100 million, but something funny appears to be happening with the debt for the Clergy Fund and clergy retirement costs.  They write, “Net unfunded clergy pension and post retirement obligations of $62.9 million and $36.4 million in debt owed to St. John’s Seminary represent the significant long-term liabilities…Accrued pension and other retirement costs decreased by $21.1 million. An increase in the discount rate, the impact of the Regina Cleri asset transfer and updated retirement age assumptions, somewhat offset by the adoption of new mortality tables, led to the decrease in the net unfunded liability.”  With more clergy reaching retirement age, presumably their medical and retirement costs and unfunded liability should be increasing, yet it is somehow miraculously decreasing.

Ongoing Sexual Abuse Costs
For the year, the total cost of sexual abuse settlements  was $1.73 million, plus there were costs incurred related to abuse prevention, outreach and other costs  of $3.07 million, for a total expenditure of $4.8 million during fiscal year 2015. When will this end?

1/3 of Parishes are In the Red
The 2016 Central Ministries Budget Plan informs us that 1/3 of all parishes are running an annual deficit. “Currently, about one-third of parishes are not self-sustaining with some requiring financial subsidy, either directly of indirectly, by the Archdiocese.”

Other than the above issues, the fiscal health of the Boston Archdiocese is just great! . The Boston Archdiocese is contemplating the idea of launching a major capital campaign to raise hundreds of millions of dollars (rumors have it targeted at anywhere from $100M to more than $300M), and it would surely take that amount of money to repay debt and unfunded liabilities, let alone provide for other long-term needs. Meanwhile, we hear many stories about struggles with the Disciples in Mission initiative (DIM), but that is a topic for another post…


Boston Offers Clergy Wellness Seminar by Woman Minister

February 23, 2016

The Archdiocese of Boston Clergy Health and Retirement Trust is offering wellness seminars for priests. Several of them strike us as odd, and risk working against the spiritual wellness of Catholic priests. Then there is the matter of the struggling Clergy Fund.

Centering Prayer Workshop
One of them is in June 2016 in Duxbury offered by Rev Meninger OCSO on the New Age practice of Centering Prayer. Of course, one of the big problems is that Centering Prayer actually is not a “prayer” and it is not even Christian. It originated with Abbot Thomas Keating at St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, but its origins are a pagan practice and it’s more like a form of self-hypnosis.

Authentic Christian prayer and meditation stem from contact with God. Proponents of centering prayer claim prayer centers in one’s being, as opposed to what prayer should be–namely, a conversation with God from the center of our souls. Read this excellent piece, The Danger of Centering Prayer which clearly articulates how Centering Prayers exercises are “at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.”

As reported by Catholic Culture, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of’ the Faith under then-Cardinal Ratzinger warned about the dangers of blending Christian prayer and Eastern methods of meditation (e.g., Zen, Transcendental Meditation and yoga). Although Some Aspects of Christian Meditation does not single out any persons or schools of thought by name, many of its warnings apply to the centering- prayer literature, including the writings of Abbot Keating and his spiritual disciple Father Basil Pennington, O.C.S.O. Both have backgrounds in Eastern meditation methods and cite those experiences favorably as instructive for today’s Christians.

 

Cardinal Ratzinger warned about methods which “try as far as possible to put aside everything that is worldly, sense perceptible, or conceptually limited.” An approach of this sort to prayer may actually be “an attempt to ascend to or immerse oneself in the sphere of the divine, which as such is neither terrestrial, sense perceptible nor capable of conceptualization.” Besides the temptation to reject the material world in this approach there is another problem-indicated by Cardinal Ratzinger’s use of the word “oneself” in the last quote-the temptation to ascend to God by one’s own power or strength. In fact it is God’s choice, not ours, whether we enter the sphere of the divine. “God is free to ’empty’ us of all that holds us back …. to draw us completely into the Trinitarian life of his eternal love,” but this gift is granted “not through our own efforts.

Time Management, facilitated by a Protestant Minister
In April there is a session at our Lady Help of Christians in Newton offered by a Rev. Nancy Foran–she is a minister in the United Church of Christ and pastor at Raymond Village Community Church in Maine, and specializes in Myers-Briggs. Can we not find any Catholics in Boston who are good at managing time to lead such a session? The brochure can be found below:

Clergy Wellness Brochure Side 1

Clergy Wellness Brochure Side 2

Who picks these sessions?!

Clergy Fund

As BCI has mentioned previously, the Clergy Fund is adding nothing to the rapidly depleting reserves–what is collected at Christmas, Easter, Assessments, September Collection and Annual Priest Appreciation Dinner goes directly to pay annual expenses. With more clergy retiring, that means increasing retirement and medical expenses, and that means reserves get tapped to pay those expenses.

Other that that, Boston is doing a good job taking care of clergy.

 


Take Action: Oppose Transgender Bathroom Bill in MA

February 22, 2016

Mass Resistance informs us that the heinous Transgender Bathroom Bill is up for a vote, likely in the next two days.  It is urgent for all citizens to be up at arms asking legislators to reject this terrible bill, that will allow men to enter women’s rooms.  The horror stories are already around us:

A man in Seattle went into a women’s locker room and undressed in front of women and girls. He said the state’s gender identity “bathroom bill” law gave him the right to do it.

Police weren’t called. He wasn’t charged with any crime. [Photo from local TV report.]

MA Family Institute reports on how a woman using a Planet Fitness lockerroom had her membership cancelled for complaining about a transgender man/woman using the woman’s lockerroom.Particularly shameful is Planet Fitness. .

For more stories, click here.

The do-nothing Mass Catholic Conference and MA Bishops have been regrettably silent on this.  You need to call  your legislators TODAY to oppose this. Here’s a link to get their phone number and a sample call script.

In short, with this terrible measure, there will be no way to protect the safety and privacy of young women and girls in public accommodations, safety and privacy that should be their right in public places. It will also negatively impact homeless shelters and other places providing of services to vulnerable women.

Call today, and please pass this on to other like-minded MA citizens.  To also send an email, click here, but be sure to call today.


The Error of Preaching Mercy without Repentance

December 15, 2015

With all the fanfare over the start of Pope Francis’ declared, “Year of Mercy,” BCI is getting increasingly frustrated by all of the articles and homilies reported to us that, frankly, convey  an incomplete or flawed picture of what the Catholic Church actually teaches about mercy. We wish more priests would either skip over mentioning what Pope Francis has said on this topic that is flawed, or find a way of clearly setting the record straight. Instead, we see faithful Catholics being led by priests they think are solid and credible to believe something that is not correct. It’s happening everywhere–in parishes, the Boston Pilot, and mass media.

First, what the Catholic Church teaches on something and has taught for 2000+ years is more often than not these days NOT the same as what Pope Francis is saying publicly or writing in his various documents.  Hopefully, everyone realizes that by now.  And if Jesus Christ, the Bible and the magisterium of the Catholic Church during 266 papacies have all said one thing about particular Church teachings, and Pope Francis says something radically different, a reasonable person should ask, “Which Pope is wrong?  Francis, or all of the others?”

So it is that we get to the topic of mercy. We draw inspiration for this post from both Msgr. Pope’s excellent Reflection on the Modern Error of Preaching Mercy Without Repentance as well as a review by Boston’s Fr. Daniel Moloney’s review of Cardinal Kasper’s dreadful book, “What Mercy Is” (a book Pope Francis said publicly had a big influence on him).  Readers should read the entirety of both pieces, but here are a few excerpts from Msgr Pope’s piece:

“God’s offer of mercy and healing love stand, and are offered to everyone. But these magnificent gifts must be accessed through repentance. That is to say, we must come to understand the seriousness of our condition, turn to God, call upon his mercy, and begin to receive the glorious medicine he offers: the medicine of his Word, of the Sacraments, of prayer, and walking in fellowship with the Church, which he established as his ongoing presence and voice in the world (cf Acts 2:42).

But of course it is not enough for us simply to hear of this new way of thinking, we must actually come to it, decide for it. Repentance is to actually embrace this new mind, and this unlocks all the blessings the healings, the mercy, and the salvation that is promised. We must allow the grace of God, interacting with our freedom to effect an actual change, a decision in our life that changes the way we think, the way we act, and puts us into a saving relationship with the Divine Physician Jesus.

Like the patient above, we must be brought to understand the seriousness of our condition, come to know that there is saving help available, and then by positive decision, rooted in grace, actually reach out to lay hold of that help.

Repentance is the door, is the key that unlocks mercy.

Yet too often today mercy is preached without reference to repentance. Too many who preach and too many who hear have come to see mercy as granted without any human engagement. One simply has it automatically, no matter what.

Yet that is not what Scripture teaches. Most notably, Simon Peter on Day One of Pentecot and the going for of the gospel preached a sermon laying out who Jesus is, and how we, in our sin and rebellion killed the very author of life. The text from Acts says,

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:37-38)

Thus, when asked what they are to do, Peter does not say, “Don’t worry, all is well,God is mercy. He says, “Repent and baptized.” In other words, come to a new mind, come to your senses, reject your sins, be washed clean and come to Jesus. And this will unlock the supreme blessing of the Holy Spirit of God, who is the mercy of God, the love of God the very life and grace of God!

And how is this accessed? Repentance.

Isaiah had said, The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,” declares the LORD (Is 59:20).

And to the Disciples in Emmaus Jesus said, This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. (Luke 24:46-48)

And thus preachers and teachers in the Church, who are Christ’s witnesses, must proclaim repentance that unlocks the forgiveness and mercy of God.

St. Paul warns, In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30).

Thus those who preach and teach mercy without repentance are deceivers and likely themselves deceived. And those who think of mercy without reference to repentance are deceived.

Faith and repentance are the supernaturally transformed and assisted human element that is necessary to unlock mercy and the graces of God. To ignore or deny this amounts to a denial of human freedom and does not help God’s people. Rather it hinders them, for mercy is accessed through repentance, and without it, the door cannot open. Repentance must be preached to all the nations because repentance, by God’s grace opens the door

 

Here is a passage from Fr. Moloney’s piece

Thomas Aquinas famously warned that a small mistake at the beginning of an argument leads to a large one at the end. For Kasper, most of the time, his weaknesses as a systematic theologian cancel each other out. He frequently uses the terms love and goodness and mercyinterchangeably, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the first two terms but not the third can be proper divine attributes. The upside is that readers can go along with all the nice things he says about God’s love, as Pope Francis apparently did, and not be sticklers for the details.

If Kasper’s understanding of mercy is wrong, what’s the right way to understand it? Mercy’s political origins are important to remember, because it’s very easy for a flawed application of mercy to lead to grave injustices in real life. The crime waves of the 1970s and early 1980s across England and the United States came in part from the introduction of a false concept of mercy into criminal punishment. Prominent experts at the time suggested that crime was really a form of mental illness that demanded therapy rather than incarceration. Judges developed or were given a variety of sentencing options, including expanded parole and out-of-prison furloughs, aimed at reintegrating criminals into society so that they would feel more connected. Prisons were reoriented around the idea of rehabilitating criminals rather than punishing them. Therapy, leniency, reintegration, and rehabilitation were implemented in one jurisdiction after another—and crime went through the roof. Soon voters were demanding stricter laws.

Around the same time, the Catholic bishops tried to replace canonical punishments with therapy, leniency, reintegration, and rehabilitation. In the 1970s, priests who were reported to be abusers of children were ­quietly sent for psychiatric treatment to be treated, rehabilitated, and reintegrated into parish ministry, rather than punished according to canon law. This was, among other things, an attempt to show mercy to the priest—by protecting his reputation and allowing him a second chance. In many places, including my own Archdiocese of Boston, psychiatrists pronounced the priests cured and fit for ministry even after several “relapses,” and the bishops did not second-guess the psychiatrists. Neither did they apply canonical penalties. Today, the bishops do not permit themselves even the possibility of granting mercy to a priest who has been accused of such a sin or committed it only once.

Is my bishop, Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston, merciless for enforcing the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, with its famous “zero tolerance” for abusers? I’m quite sure that Pope Francis doesn’t think so, since he just appointed him to head the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. ­Probably most of America would think likewise. But why? Why does the ­Boston Globe’s readership think that it’s a scandal for the Church to show “mercy” to priests wh­o ­committed one serious sin of abuse forty years ago but that it’s a sign of the wonderfulness of Pope Francis that he’s reportedly considering showing “mercy” to a man who dumped his wife and kids for a younger woman, also forty years ago? A consistent principle of mercy is lacking, and Walter Kasper has not helped us find one.

This brings us to our gripe.  BCI has heard complaints that a number of priests in Boston preached on “mercy” this week and specifically quoted Pope Francis’ recent comments on the topic, published in The Pilot and around the globe in secular media:

“How much wrong we do to God and his grace when we speak of sins being punished by his judgment before we speak of their being forgiven by his mercy,” he said.  “We have to put mercy before judgment, and in any event God’s judgment will always be in the light of his mercy. In passing through the Holy Door, then, may we feel that we ourselves are part of this mystery of love.”

What’s missing here is that mercy requires moving away from evil, and there is no mercy without there first being truth.  To leave out the need for repentance is the equivalent of spiritual malpractice. It’s simply not correct and is not at all what the Catholic Church teaches. As discussed recently in First Things, “St. John Paul II: No Mercy Without Truth

Mercy is not moral peek-a-boo. Mercy requires moving away from evil: “Where [mercy] enters in, evil effectively gives way. Where evil does not give way, mercy is not there—but we also add, where there is no mercy, evil does not yield. Mercy does not accept sin nor looks upon it as if peeking between one’s fingers, but only and exclusively helps in conversion from sin….  Divine mercy goes strictly in tandem with justice”

We take issue with one piece in the Pilot which, though it mentioned the need for repentance, also encouraged readers to read Pope Francis’ “The Face of Mercy,”(called in the article, a “great resource” (even though it neglects repentance and drew inspiration from Cardinal Kasper’s drivel). And the author merely regurgitated Pope Francis’ line about why we needed a year of mercy, when the handwriting is clearly on the wall about why Pope Francis is on this bandwagon and the false teachings behind it.  A far better piece in the Pilot is What is Mercy — And What are Some False Conceptions of it , where author, Matt Hadro quotes Dr. William Mattison, a moral theology prof at the Catholic University of America saying:

“If my kid is obstinately avoiding treating his mother respectfully, there’s a time for mercy, but there’s also a time to recognize that things are what they are and they need to be punished. The goal of punishment is not an end in itself. The goal of punishment is to correct the will of the sinner to be restored into right relationship.”

If a priest you know preached on what Pope Francis said without giving the full truth, or a friend or family member is talking about mercy without repentence or judgment, we suggest you send this blog post to them.


Boston Diocesean Deception on Survey

December 6, 2015

In our last post, we criticized the Boston Archdiocese for spending in excess of $100K to survey mostly non-church-going Catholics about their views on the Catholic Church and Catholic faith. By coincidence, the day after BCI posted our criticism, Terry Donilon, Secretary for Communications, sent out an email to all priests in the archdiocese explaining the background on the survey.  Here is his email, and then the BCI analysis of the deception follows:

From: “Donilon, Terry”
Date: 12/03/2015 11:37 AM (GMT-05:00)
To:
Subject: Background on Survey Effort

Dear Monsignor/Father,

During the course of the past year, the Archdiocese of Boston has been planning to gain a broader understanding of what is in the hearts and on the minds of Catholics. The reason for this effort is we believe that we should be in an ongoing conversation with our people. Recently we convened a series of focus groups and conducted a survey of 1,600 respondents from across the Archdiocese. This effort involves surveying practicing Catholics and those who have fallen away from the Church.

In 2012, the Archdiocese was a member of a coalition which defeated the physician assisted suicide ballot initiative in the Commonwealth. In conducting research at that time we gathered valuable information about the thoughts and concerns of Catholics on a wide range of issues statewide. The current effort has been focused specifically on the Archdiocese.

This type of research is a standard practice for other nonprofits, colleges and universities including many Catholic institutions. We have conducted similar surveys on a more informal level from time to time. In the spirit of evangelization our hope is to learn more about the people we serve as well as learn how we can help those who have fallen away from the church to consider rejoining us on their faith journey. The project is not quite completed and there will be an extensive analysis of the information gathered.

We are confident that this initiative will help us to be more engaged with our people, to be better communicators in spreading the beauty of our faith and in helping Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ.

Thank you for all you do each and every day in your priestly ministry.

Sincerely Yours,
​Terry Donilon

Where to start?

If the Boston Archdiocese truly wants to better understand what is in the hearts and minds of Catholics, help those who have fallen away from the church consider rejoining the Catholic Church and help Catholics grow closer in their relationship with Christ”, then how can Terry Donilon explain this feedback on the survey provided by “Iwassurveyed” about the design flaws of the survey?

 

First, there were direct questions with multiple choice answers such as strongly disagree, disagree, disagree somewhat, agree, somewhat agree, strongly agree etc. Many questions concerned Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s being chosen for the Pope’s circle of 8 and also as head of the new sex abuse unit at the Vatican. Not one question concerned Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s performance as head of RCAB.. Another question concerned the RCAB handling of sex abuse by clergy TODAY, not in the past. Another question was, “Do you intend to see SPOTLIGHT or have you seen it? “Some questions about contraception, abortion etc.

Not one question concerned RCAB finances; church closures and sales; the new and improved collaboratives; mergers and takeovers, school closings, EVANGELIZATION. WHERE IS IT ANYWAY?

Soooooo, I suggest that the questions were carefully formulated to minimize any real criticism of RCAB and Cardinal. Sean O’Malley. Not many people are going to criticize his participation in circle of 8 or the new sex abuse unit of the Vatican, no matter their feelings on what is happening locally.

There was no opportunity to control the interview. No open ended questions and no opening for you to reformulate the questions into something else. This was as programmed as possible.

We know from the Boston Globe article that questions included, Is your opinion of Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley very favorable, favorable, unfavorable, or very unfavorable? And, “Which best reflects your attitude about abortion? 1) It is morally wrong and should not be legal; 2) It is morally wrong but should be legal; or 3) It is morally acceptable and should be legal.”

So, clearly the Boston Archdiocese has some other motives in the survey besides bringing people back to the Catholic Church, and they are interested in finding out Catholic faithful feel the leadership of the Boston Archdiocese is doing at its main mission–carrying out the saving mission of Jesus Christ.

Not that BCI is supportive of such surveys, but similar surveys done elsewhere have typically reported the following reasons why people stop going to Mass:

  • Liturgies are uninspiring
  • Homilies are uninspiring
  • Parishes are not welcoming
  • Money concerns abound
  • No attention paid to youth and young people
  • Like priests, but they are overworked
  • Runs too much like a business
  • Disagree with one or another of Church’s teachings

So, there is reason to believe that the Boston Archdiocese could save between $100K and 250K by simply using the sort of feedback gotten already from similar surveys. These will likely be the results of the very expensive survey RCAB is taking in 2015 and reporting in 2016. What will be done with this ground-breaking feedback? NOTHING.

 

A reasonable person might also ask why–if a survey was really needed–was there not a comprehensive survey of RCAB done by a group like the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA).  If a survey was called for, and we still do not think so, a group like CARA could design surveys for individual groups, and thus get a more specific view of the state of the diocese by separately surveying priests, religious, lay leadership, Mass attendees, fallen away, and youth.

We will repeat and paraphrase what we said in our last post.  Cardinal Sean O’Malley needs to teach with the authority and confidence of a man who knows he has been given the keys to eternal life. Those who reject the immutable truths of the Catholic Faith will put their souls in grave danger. What might we expect from the current survey? The likely answer of what will come: Instead of sound doctrine clearly stated with authority, we are likely to see the Archdiocese pander to those who no longer attend Mass with lukewarm statements, cleverly worded to remain as inoffensive as possible while stating the bare minimum in terms of doctrine. We have already had this over the past 50 years and seen nothing but declining Mass attendance. It certainly is not the way Christendom was built.

We have a flawed survey designed and executed by a consultant who works for political candidates who hate the Catholic Church and work in strident opposition to our teachings. The fact that such a survey is being employed by a prelate whose primary duty is to guard the deposit of Faith delivered to the Saints is capitulation to the spirit of the age.


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