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Thursday, April 29, 2004

Cavanaugh on Hauerwas 
Posted by Christopher at 11:34 PM

William Cavanaugh has penned a thoroughly entertaining introduction to the (in)famous Methodist theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwaus in "Stan the Man: A Thoroughly Biased Account of a Completely UnObjective Person" (The Stanley Hauerwas Reader, Duke UP, 2001). Hauerwas, for those who aren't aware, is a Texan with a mouth of a sailor, a low tolerance for bullshit, an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and a taste for Mexican food. Here are some choice excerpts from Cavanaugh's introduction:

A complex dynamic seems to run through Stanley's relationship with those who want a piece of him: Hauerwas has a tendency to create disciples, and yet there are few things that annoy him more. His opening-day lecture at his Divinity School classes usually involves some form of the claim "I don't want you to think for yourselves. I want you to think like me." This is Stanley's attempt to disabuse his students of the Enlightenment illusion of individual sovereignty.

In MacIntyrean fashion, Stanley believes that theology is a craft learned by putting oneself under the authority of a master of the tradition. And yet Stanley hated the first seminar paper I ever did at Duke because it repeatedly saluted the Hauerwas party line without any real understanding of what was at stake. He returned it with an exasperated comment "This sounds too much like me!" emblazoned on the final page. Tradition, after all, is not identical repetition, but is defined by MacIntyre as an "ongoing argument" over the goods and practices intrinsic to that tradition. Stanley Hauerwas loves a good argument. Indeed, to be able to have an argument at all is a significant moral achievement, for it presupposes some common understanding of the goods at issue . . . [p. 26-27]

Everyone who has seen Hauerwas in action has a favorite story. Stanley confronts a medical researcher who is defending experiments on fetal tissue with the following question: "What if it were discovered that fetal tissue were a delicacy: would you eat it?" Stanley is asked to speak at a rally against the death penalty and declares, "I'm for the death penalty. I think they should build a guillotine on Wall Street and execute people for stock fraud!" In the first case, Hauerwas' point was that no amount of benefit to medicine could justify experimenting on fetal tissue: either it is human and deserves respect, or the door is open to all kinds of uses. In the second case, Hauerwas' point was that the death penalty is not justified by claiming it prevents crime. If such were the case, the death penalty would be much more profitably used against dispassionate white-collar crime than against murder, which is usually too entangled in personal vindication to be prevented by detached calculation. The real reason the death penalty is used is a desire for revenge, a tempation to which Christians must not succumb. . . .

. . . A deliberate part of Stanley's pedagogy is to force people to think by jolting them out of their customary positions. . . . His lessons are not easily forgotten because he makes his listener go through the process of making the logical connections for himself or herself. This at least partially explains Stanley's advice to one of his students: "Your job as a theologian is to cause ulcers in others and not suffer them yourself in the process." [p. 29]

[in an article in Newsweek Hauerwas commented] "God is killing the Church and we goddamn well deserve it." The latter incident caused a brief tempest in the church teapot. (Stanley's defense: "At least I mentioned God's name twice!") [p. 30]

Monday, April 26, 2004

Silent No More. 
Posted by Christopher at 11:04 PM

One group that was present at the recent "pro-choice" march, but not permitted to be a part of it by the organizers, was the post-abortion support group Silent No More. Kathryn Jean Lopez covered the march for National Review and talks about the group:

Quietly gathering around the march were women and men — and college students — organized under a group called Silent No More, which works with families suffering from abortion. Their permit request was denied after an effective effort from the supposedly freedom-loving sisters who organized the "March for Women's Lives." (Said Georgette Forney, president of NOEL, one of the groups that makes up the Silent No More coalition (the other being Priests for Life), "It's ironic that they are marching to protect women's right to choose and at the same time working to deny us our right to talk about the pain abortion caused us. We are the faces of the choice they promote.") So, Silent No More adjusted plans, remapped their routes, and had a little prayer chain around the march under another group's permit. No pictures of aborted fetuses from them. No yelling. No hating. They held signs that said "Women Deserve Better," "I Regret Lost Fatherhood," and "I Regret My Abortion." One sign was simply a happy face that said, "I Am Pro-life."

One of the women gathered with Silent No More, Lynn Hurley, told me that she had had an abortion in 1971 when she was in college. She knows the pain of abortion and says, "I hurt for the [women marching] who hurt, who have been through abortions themselves. They're probably in denial." She said, "I'm hoping women might see our signs and be touched by them."

Apparently nothing upsets "pro-choicers" more than the implication by those who made the choice that it was wrong and they regret it. Here's the testimony of Annie, posting to the "After-Abortion" weblog:

The March, in three words: "viciously, mercilessly abusive." The amount of verbal aggression and abuse hurled at me personally, by women and men, of all ages, for carrying the I REGRET MY ABORTION sign, well, I thought that I was ready for it.

I wasn't. Not even close.

I consider myself fairly far along on the "healing" and "public-appearances" scales. We stood, all 500 of us in the Silent No More Awareness groups, in total silence as planned, for over five hours, not replying or saying one word to anything that was said or done to us, and I do mean anything.

But nothing prepared me for literally mobs of livid people screaming the most hateful vicious snide things at me personally. We were spit on, and had an egg hurled at us from the marchers. There were two groups of Satanists. And the signs. Like the guy who held a handmade sign, "BABY KILLER" with an arrow pointed downward at himself. If not for the riot police, we would have been mobbed. There was that much viciousness. People broke through the riot police's invisible line just to come up in my face and hurl insulting words. There were not enough police to form a complete line, so they would run up to me, shout out their abuse, and run back before the policeman or woman got to stop him/her. And I said nothing to anyone, just held my sign.

I'll try to post at length as soon as I can. There's much more to tell. Including one woman who in the midst of the mass of marchers, came over to us, said, "What the hell am I doing out here?" and asked us to exchange her NARAL sign for one of ours. One conversion to the truth... that we know of...Will also do one of my regular columns and post that link too. The answer to one of Em's questions below: there were a TON of men there. Young to old, what seemed like thousands of husbands-dragged-along, even up to the ages of 85. Yes, they even had two double length busses for those elderly.

Related Links:

"The Final Sanction" and "Pascal's Wager" 
Posted by Christopher at 9:25 PM

In a column for BeliefNet.com, Charlotte Hays (describing herself as a Republican, and Arinze as "one of her favorite cardinals") makes her case that the Church should -- for the time being -- continue to give Senator Kerry communion "if he asks for it", regardless of whether he stands in opposition to his Church's teachings (You can read her column here).

Ms. Hays contends that

The Church must do a better job of forming consciences in general, and John Kerry's conscience in particular. Kerry deserves to know, and to be told repeatedly, first in private and then in public, that he cannot claim to be a good Catholic as things stand. Public sinner though he is, Kerry deserves lengthy, intense, and private consultation from his Church before, if it comes to that, he must be turned away from communion. In a way, it's possible to regard Arinze's remarks as a way to open the campaign to educate John Kerry about what it means to be a Catholic. . . .

The important thing is to offer John Kerry the chance to do the right thing. Is a holy flip-flop impossible? Improbable? Yes, but with God all things are possible, and John Kerry deserves the chance to embrace his faith publicly. If he refuses, and if he becomes president, then the Church should turn him away. Having a Catholic of such stature flout the teachings of the Church would be untenable. The matter would no longer revolve around one politician's conscience but around the edification of the entire flock.

Ms. Hays makes some good points in her column, and I agree with her on this:
The problem with sanctioning Kerry is that part of the blame lies with the Church itself. The Church has not done an adequate job of forming consciences in this regard. Ordinary Catholics do not realize why certain difficult teachings are of paramount importance to leading a Christian life. So many Catholics think of abortion as something on which the Church has a "rule," but they do not realize that the Church's defense of innocent life has a direct link to Christ himself. There is a connection between killing an innocent child and killing Christ all over again. The Church teaches that every life matters. Every human being is offered redemption by that one oblation made on the cross. Because every life is important, even the most inconvenient among us cannot be snuffed out in utero.
However, I disagree with her proposal that the prudential and compassionate route would be to continue to give Kerry communion and postpone the "final sanction" until his presidency for the following reasons:
  1. From the Pope's encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" to the recently published "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding The Participation of Catholics in Political Life" (specifically for those in Kerry's line of work) to the Bishop's document "Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility" to the public responses of several courageous bishops to Kerry's own private meeting with Archbishop Kerrick, who I'll wager reiterated the Church's teaching -- I believe the Church has already put forth a significant amount of effort to educate Kerry (and other Catholics) on the incompatibility of supporting abortion and being a "Catholic in good standing." If Kerry doesn't get the message, he's either deaf or unwilling to listen.

  2. Ms. Hays' plea to give Kerry communion EVEN IF he persists in supporting abortion would contradict the Church's chief obligation to care for the salvation of his soul. If Kerry's priest values his soul, and takes seriously St. Paul's warning of "eating and drinking to one's damnation," then -- until Kerry publicly renounces his stance and indicates that he will adhere to the Church's teachings -- I would think it far better to refuse communion, causing temporary public embarassment, than risk jeopardizing his soul for eternity.

Finally, getting philosophical for a moment, I find the dilemma is reminiscent of "Pascal's Wager": supposing that the Church's teaching were true, and that one could indeed merit damnation by unfaithful reception of the Eucharist . . . wouldn't it be in one's best interest to refrain? And seen in this light, wouldn't it be the greatest sign of personal disrespect and carelessness as Kerry's priest to continue to dispense communion under the present circumstances?

Sunday, April 25, 2004

Prayer Request for an Anglican 
Posted by Christopher at 11:39 AM

Prayer requests from the author of Pontifications, an Anglican blog, and his twenty-one year old son, on account of:

Early last week he called my wife and I and informed us that he had decided to become a Roman Catholic. Today he will be confirmed and will make his first communion as a Catholic. And from that point you, he will no longer be able to receive communion from the hands of his father.

My eyes filled with tears of grief upon hearing this news. Over a year and a half ago I had to counsel him to explore other Christian traditions. There is no future for you and your future family in the Episcopal Church, I told him. He heeded my advice and began to explore and read and pray. He is a serious Christian young man. And so today he begins a new chapter in his walk with our Lord.

Pray that the Spirit will come upon him and fill him and anoint him to do the Lord’s work and ministry, whatever that might be. Thank you.

Last week the author raised a furor by publicly musing on "whether The Reformation was a blunder?" -- the post and ensuing commmentary revealing the troubled hearts of many "Anglo-Catholics" as they deal with what is happening in their church.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

The Boston Diocese and St. Paul on responsible reception of the Eucharist 
Posted by Christopher at 1:38 AM

The scandal over Kerry's reception of communion has been reinvigorated by Cardinal Arinze's statement that politicans who are "unambiguously pro-abortion" are "not fit" to receive communion. However, in covering the story the Washington Post prints this little gem of a defense from the Boston diocese, on why they have declined to carry out Arinze's recommendation:

A spokesman for Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of Boston said Kerry had not been barred from taking communion in his hometown, and he indicated that no ban was likely.

"The position of Archbishop O'Malley has been that when people come forward to receive communion, we give them communion. The moment of communion is not the moment in which to raise the question of whether someone should or should not be receiving it," said the spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Coyne.

Coyne said that it would be appropriate for a priest or bishop to counsel a politician whose positions are contrary to church teachings. "But this is something that's handled privately with the Catholic," he said. "It's not something where you would make any kind of public action or public statement to withhold communion."

Unfortunately, what Coyne fails to realize is that the Boston diocese' very reluctance to take a stand against Kerry is, in itself, "a public action and a public statement."

Catholics are obligated to regard the Body of Christ with the respect and honor He deserves. St. Paul urges us to examine our conscience: "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself." Most Catholics -- well, those that are properly catechized at least -- know that to approach the Eucharist in a state of unrepentance and obstinate sin is a source of grave scandal.

Obviously, the individual is in the best position to determine whether he or she is properly disposed to receive. One cannot expect the priest to stop each communicant in line and inquire where they stand. It is our own responsibility to do so as Catholics.

Nevertheless, there are indeed cases where a Catholic can be a source of grave scandal by receiving communion, and where a priest's compliance in giving a Catholic communion can in turn perpetuate that scandal. This is precisely what Cardinal Arinze meant when he refers to politicans who are unambiguously pro-abortion -- not mentioning by name, but obviously alluding to Senator Kerry.

Kerry's bishop, Boston Archbishop Sean O'Malley, has stated that "politicians should know that if they're not voting correctly on these life issues that they shouldn't dare come to Communion." Kerry has already met privately with Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, who -- we may presume -- said something along those lines as well. But as far as we can tell, whatever happened at that meeting failed to persuade Kerry to reconcile with the Church's teaching. Rather, he has launched a campaign of television advertisements affirming "pro-choice" and criticizing the President's opposition to abortion. Today attended a public rally, where he gladly received the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, and reaffirmed his support for Roe vs. Wade.

Which, of course, creates no small amount of confusion for many Catholics -- catechumens, teachers, parents, clergy -- being counseled (or counseling others) on responsible reception of the Eucharist.

For when Kerry and like minded, unambiguously pro-abortion politicians continue to receive communion at the hands of complacent priests, one is tempted to wonder whether the Church is operating under a double standard, and whether St. Paul's admonishments truly apply in this day and age.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Letting Go. 
Posted by Christopher at 12:22 AM

Two blogs I enjoy very much are Tom Kreitzberg's Disputations and Stephen Riddle's Flos Carmeli (St. Blog's resident Thomist and Carmelite, respectively), and their ongoing theological disputes which provide me with much food for thought (such as this discussion of contemplation and married life).

Lately Tom is reading On Union with God by St. Albert the Great, and posting his musings on the text. Prompting in turn an interesting exchange on what it means to "empty your mind of all distractions, and this bit of wise advice by Stephen:

"The way I once explained it to my Carmelites is that it was like the ten ibis that were walking on my lawn one morning. I looked out at them and they were beautiful and I thanked God for them. My heart could then take one of two turns--I could then think to build a coop and contain this beauty for myself for good and all; or I could let the ibis wander free and eventually fly away, cherishing what God had given me in the vision, but not desiring to retain it forever. The latter is nada. Accept what comes, and let it pass with a prayer of praise and thanksgiving, but with no desire to hold on to it forever."

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Bloggers meet the Cardinal! 
Posted by Christopher at 10:56 PM

Cardinal Ratzinger celebrated his 77th birthday on Friday, April 16.

Speaking of which, some Notre Dame bloggers from the Shrine Of The Holy Whapping had the opportunity to attend Mass celebrated by the good Cardinal during their visit to Rome, and meet with him afterwards. Andrew gives an account of the encounter.

I wonder whether there is anything that strikes greater fear in the hearts of Catholic progressives than the site of vibrant young Catholics thanking the Grand Inquisitor of the Catholic Church for his ministry and expressing their admiration for his writings. ;-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Around the Blogosphere . . .  
Posted by Christopher at 10:06 PM

  • Dr. Blosser provides philosophical reflections on The Passion of The Christ:
    The allusive symbolism throughout is both lavish and subtle, and much of it will be lost on those unversed in Scripture and Catholic tradition--from the wordless depiction of the scene described in John 8:8-11 to the clutched veil of Veronica bearing the impression of the Savior's blood-stained face. This may be regarded as a shortcoming of the film. Yet not only is this inevitable and unavoidable, but it points up a distinctive fact about such an undertaking as this: it cannot possibly be viewed and understood by all audiences as intended by its director and producer. The interior spiritual meaning intended in such a film--what Gerard Manley Hopkins might have called, had he lived to be a modern film critic, its "inscape"--is something that will remain inaccessible to any viewer unqualified in specific ways to see it as canonically intended. . . . [Read More]

  • Which three books "would explain in clear, profound, and incisive terms the whole structure of human life, its destiny, and how it stands before God and the world"? -- James V. Schall gives his answer in the latest issue of Crisis magazine; via TS O'Rama (of the blog with the really long Latin name)

  • Bill Cork posts his article Passionate Blogging: Interfaith Controversy and the Internet , a chapter in the forthcoming book After The Passion Is Gone: American Religious Consequences, edited by Shawn Landres and Michael Berenbaum (to be published later this year).

  • For those who aren't already aware, regular updates on the Catholic Kerry Scandal can be found on Catholic Kerry Watch, a new group blog with Jeff Miller ("Curt Jester"), Earl E. Appleby ("Times Against Humanity") and others.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Reflecting on Kerry's reception of communion with Protestants 
Posted by Christopher at 2:36 AM

Amy Welborn makes the excellent suggestion of using the Kerry scandal as an opportunity for Catholic education on the nature of the Eucharist:

Further, this is a moment of education as to the nature of Eucharist. What is it? What's interesting is that in these post-Conciliar days, we are constantly reminded that Eucharist is not a private devotion - it is an effective sign of the unity of God's people in Christ.


That's why, in the end, the weight of criticism is not at Kerry, as opportunistic and cynical as his use of this issue may be. It is, once again, on those charged with helping all of us understand and live by it.

* * *

One of the issues -- perhaps minor in relation to Kerry's decision to receive communion in contravention to the admonition of his bishop, but no less important for a proper understanding of the Eucharist -- is the fact that Kerry had decided on Palm Sunday to receive communion at a Protestant church. Kudos to Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review's "The Corner" for picking up on why this wasn't exactly kosher:

Here's Kerry taking Communion at a Protestant church. Here's what PJPII reiterated on this matter in his encyclical Ecclesia De Eucharistia: "The Catholic faithful, therefore, while respecting the religious convictions of these separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in their celebrations, so as not to condone an ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist...."

To clarify the Holy Father's concern about receiving communion with "separated brethren", it would be helpful here to quote more extensively from Ecclesia De Eucharistia, particularly Chapter 4: The Eucharist and Ecclesial Communion:

35. The celebration of the Eucharist, however, cannot be the starting-point for communion; it presupposes that communion already exists, a communion which it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection. The sacrament is an expression of this bond of communion both in its invisible dimension, which, in Christ and through the working of the Holy Spirit, unites us to the Father and among ourselves, and in its visible dimension, which entails communion in the teaching of the Apostles, in the sacraments and in the Church's hierarchical order. The profound relationship between the invisible and the visible elements of ecclesial communion is constitutive of the Church as the sacrament of salvation. Only in this context can there be a legitimate celebration of the Eucharist and true participation in it. Consequently it is an intrinsic requirement of the Eucharist that it should be celebrated in communion, and specifically maintaining the various bonds of that communion intact. 

[and later]

39. Furthermore, given the very nature of ecclesial communion and its relation to the sacrament of the Eucharist, it must be recalled that "the Eucharistic Sacrifice, while always offered in a particular community, is never a celebration of that community alone. In fact, the community, in receiving the Eucharistic presence of the Lord, receives the entire gift of salvation and shows, even in its lasting visible particular form, that it is the image and true presence of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church." . . .

The ecclesial communion of the Eucharistic assembly is a communion with its own Bishop and with the Roman Pontiff. The Bishop, in effect, is the visible principle and the foundation of unity within his particular Church. It would therefore be a great contradiction if the sacrament par excellence of the Church's unity were celebrated without true communion with the Bishop. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote: "That Eucharist which is celebrated under the Bishop, or under one to whom the Bishop has given this charge, may be considered certain." Likewise, since "the Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of the Bishops and of the multitude of the faithful," communion with him is intrinsically required for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Hence the great truth expressed which the Liturgy expresses in a variety of ways: "Every celebration of the Eucharist is performed in union not only with the proper Bishop, but also with the Pope, with the episcopal order, with all the clergy, and with the entire people. Every valid celebration of the Eucharist expresses this universal communion with Peter and with the whole Church, or objectively calls for it, as in the case of the Christian Churches separated from Rome. . . . "

43. In considering the Eucharist as the sacrament of ecclesial communion, there is one subject which, due to its importance, must not be overlooked: I am referring to the relationship of the Eucharist to ecumenical activity. We should all give thanks to the Blessed Trinity for the many members of the faithful throughout the world who in recent decades have felt an ardent desire for unity among all Christians. The Second Vatican Council, at the beginning of its Decree on Ecumenism, sees this as a special gift of God. It was an efficacious grace which inspired us, the sons and daughters of the Catholic Church and our brothers and sisters from other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, to set forth on the path of ecumenism. 

Our longing for the goal of unity prompts us to turn to the Eucharist, which is the supreme sacrament of the unity of the People of God, in as much as it is the apt expression and the unsurpassable source of that unity. In the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice the Church prays that God, the Father of mercies, will grant his children the fullness of the Holy Spirit so that they may become one body and one spirit in Christ. . . .

44. Precisely because the Church's unity, which the Eucharist brings about through the Lord's sacrifice and by communion in his body and blood, absolutely requires full communion in the bonds of the profession of faith, the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance, it is not possible to celebrate together the same Eucharistic liturgy until those bonds are fully re-established. Any such concelebration would not be a valid means, and might well prove instead to be an obstacle, to the attainment of full communion, by weakening the sense of how far we remain from this goal and by introducing or exacerbating ambiguities with regard to one or another truth of the faith. The path towards full unity can only be undertaken in truth. In this area, the prohibitions of Church law leave no room for uncertainty, in fidelity to the moral norm laid down by the Second Vatican Council. 

The "ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist" that the Pope refers to following the above is not only regarding the doctrine of real presence (lacking among many Protestant denominations), but the Catholic understanding of proper celebration in "true communion" -- moral, doctrinal, ecclesial -- with the Holy Catholic Church.

The current state of disunity between Catholics and Protestants, of which disagreement over the nature and meaning of the Eucharist is but one sign, is a painful reality with which every Christian must contend. When a professing Catholic (like Senator Kerry) chooses to receive communion with Protestants -- whether for reasons of a political "photo-op" or even the desire not to refrain and cause a scene -- he impedes the presentation of the distinctively Catholic understanding of the Eucharist, and contributes to the ambiguity about which the Holy Father is concerned.

* * *
Commenting on the rush of his own denomination (ELCA) "to consort with various Reformed churches, Moravians, Roman Catholics, and Episcopalians", Bishop Michael McDaniel (1929 – 2003) quipped:
The prayer of Jesus in John 17[:11] that we might be one “as He and the Father are one” is not a mandate for mindless coziness. However “good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity” [Psalm 133:1], we must not sacrifice God’s truth on an altar of unity.

Serious disagreements between Catholics and Protestants over the nature and meaning of the Eucharist cannot be paved over by a casual stroll to the communion rail such as Kerry did on Palm Sunday. Kerry's reception not only displays an attitude of blatant disregard for these differences, but does a great disservice to ecumenical relations by insulting those who strive for genuine dialogue while maintaining open and honest recognition of where they stand on such matters.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Posted by Christopher at 10:20 PM

Good Friday is not just one day of the year. It is a day relived in every day of the world, and of our lives in the world. In the Christian view of things, all reality turns around the "paschal mystery" of the death and resurrection of Christ. As Passover marks the liberation from bondage in Egypt, so the paschal mystery marks humanity's passage from death to life. Good Friday simply cannot be confined to Holy Week. It is not simply the dismal but necessary prelude to the joy of Easter, although I'm afraid many Christians think of it that way. Every day of the year is a good day to think about Good Friday, for Good Friday is the drama of the love by which our every day is sustained.

Richard John Neuhaus

* * *

Let no one go away with the impression that the Gospel makes us take a gloomy view of the world and of life. It hinders indeed from taking a superficial view, and finding a vain transitory joy in what we see; but it forbids our immediate enjoyment, only to grant enjoyment in truth and fulfillment afterwards. . . . It bids us begin with the Cross of Christ, and in that Cross we shall at first find sorrow, but in a while peace and comfort will rise out of that sorrow. That Cross will lead us to mourning, repentence, humiliation, prayer, fasting; we shall sorrow for our sins, we shall sorrow with Christ's sufferings; but all this sorrow will only issue, nay, will be undergone in a happiness far greater than the enjoyment which the world gives.

John Henry Newman

Prayer Request 
Posted by Christopher at 8:06 AM

For Peter Vere.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

Sen. Kerry - The Latest Scandal for American Catholics 
Posted by Christopher at 11:06 AM

Senator Kerry isn't the first Catholic politican to publicly flout and repudiate the teachings of his Church and yet maintain his credibility as a "Catholic in good standing", but he is the first Roman Catholic to run for president on a major party ticket in 44 years -- and how Catholic bishops, clergy and laity in the United States will respond will be a critical issue in the upcoming presidential election.

  • Kerry started annoying Catholic sensibilities last month with a disrespectful entrance at Mass, according to The American Spectator:
    On Sunday, John Kerry showed up for the 10:30 Mass at Our Lady of the Snows Catholic Church at 10:41 a.m. (The church had roped off two pews for the VIP.) Adding further insult, Kerry arrived noisily, fully outfitted for skiing, not dressed for a religious service. Compounding the insult -- this time to all Catholics in good standings -- Kerry received the sacrament of Holy Eucharist, even though he's not considered to be a Catholic in good standing.

    "It was just a media-op," says a Kerry advance staffer. "We set it up with some reporters that we knew were going to be there."

  • Last Sunday, speaking at New Northside Missionary Baptist church, Kerry quoted James 2:14 to convey is opinions on the Bush administration and the state of the Union:
    "The Scriptures say: 'What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?' When we look at what is happening in America today, where are the works of compassion?"

    Says Crisis magazine editor Deal Hudson in his latest email newsletter:

    . . . since he's so keen on the book of James, he might want to take a look at James 1:22-24: "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like."

  • Deal Hudson also referred to Sen. Kerry in a recent interview with Newsmax.com, according to whom Kerry constitutes a direct challenge for Catholic voters:
    "My view that this is a huge decisive moment for Catholics in the United States. I hope they will rise to the challenge and refuse to endorse another Catholic politician who is pretending to be a Catholic while rejecting the Church's central moral and social teachings.

    "I think that the challenge is bigger for the laity than it has been for the bishops. It's an election. The issue is who's going to vote for the guy. . . . if [Catholic laity] show massive support for Kerry, that's going to set back the church in this country for at least a generation, just at a time when a significant number of bishops and laity are beginning to get active on this issue. I am keeping my eyes more focused on the laity and hoping they will reject such Catholic politicians."

  • Voters aside, how American Catholic bishops will respond to Kerry's claims to be "a Catholic in good standing" has all the makings of the next big scandal. Oswald Sobrino ("Catholic Analysis") puts the matter very succinctly:
    Will Kerry be allowed to publicly define the Catholic faith before the American people as consistent with the myths of the Culture of Death, or will the bishops define Catholic teaching before the American people as unequivocally rejecting the myths of the Culture of Death? We will find out the answer in the next few months. Boston was the epicenter of the homosexual scandal that has shaken the Church. Boston has also become the epicenter of heterodox movements such as Voice of the Faithful. Boston will be the epicenter of an even greater scandal that goes to the heart of the Gospel of Life. Archbishop O'Malley, fulfil your ministry as a true soldier of Christ.

  • Sen. Kerry was recently endorsed by NARAL as "a president pro-choice Americans can rely on." He recently responded to Vatican concerns voting record by quoting his role model, President John F. Kennedy:
    People in Rome are becoming more and more aware that there's a problem of John Kerry and a political scandal with his apparent profession of his Catholic faith and some of stances, particular abortion . . . I don't think it complicates things at all. We have separation of church and state in this country. As John Kennedy said very clearly 'I will be a president who happens to be Catholic, not a Catholic president'."

    Kerry has assurred his fellow Americans that the teachings of his Church will play no part in influencing his decisions as president. Let us pray that Catholic voters will consider this a liability rather than a virtue, and act appropriately this coming November.

  • Update: The Corner observes yet another action inconsistent with the express teachings of the Church:
    Here's Kerry taking Communion at a Protestant church. Here's what PJPII reiterated on this matter in his encyclical Ecclesia De Eucharistia: "The Catholic faithful, therefore, while respecting the religious convictions of these separated brethren, must refrain from receiving the communion distributed in their celebrations, so as not to condone an ambiguity about the nature of the Eucharist...."

    (Ambiguity definitely seems to be Kerry's forte).

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