Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Pope John Paul II, to be canonized on April 27 by Pope Francis, was one of many people who've decried a "culture of death" in recent decades. The description was warranted, but Catholics also believe that natural death is a part of life and can be beautiful and dignified.
So Pope Francis offers an alternative
The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago brought together disparate voices in the Church by showing how our teachings fit together in one "seamless garment." Pope Francis offers the flip side, how the Church's teachings fit together even when the world ignores them. "Pope says wasting food is a sin" may make for entertaining headlines, but it misses the genius of the cohesive Catholic vision Pope Francis offers the world, of how much
It applies to how we relate to:
- The poor, who have been a focus of Francis' pontificate, explicitly mentioned by the pope as those excluded from society at a local, national and global level.
- The unborn, whether they are destroyed in the name of convenience or personal freedom with abortion or in the name of scientific progress with embryonic stem cell research.
- The elderly, sick and disabled, when voices in our society suggest that physician assisted suicide ought to be the law of the land because some lives just aren't worth living.
- Immigrants, who have been treated as a convenient source of menial labor, but have not been recognized by society or rewarded for their contributions.
- Workers, who are not a means to an end, profit, but people deserving of a living wage and whose work deepens their sense of human worth.
- The imprisoned, who are easier to write off and forget, or even dispose of altogether, than to rehabilitate and restore. Pope Francis showed us, through the gesture of washing feet, that these people are still to be loved and supported.
- The environment, not a commodity to be used up as we please, but something precious, created by God and left in our care.
- Young people: as Pope Francis has explicitly pointed out, young people are the future, and yet society perpetuates circumstances in which they cannot
find jobsand face crushing educational debt.
- Our relationships: Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has spoken frequently of a vocations crisis, not just in the priesthood, but in marriage. Many people treat their marriages as disposable, not as lifelong commitments. Fewer people are bothering to get married at all. News stories profile "hook-up culture" on college campuses in place of young people pursuing lasting relationships.
- The Internet: Whether it's pornography, a news story or even a meme, the Internet provides endless opportunities to use people as disposable pleasure objects, laugh derisively at them, yell at them or otherwise dismiss them. Digital technology can build up human interconnectivity like never before. It also allows us to demean on a dizzying scale, whether by perpetuating the "rape culture" that trivializes violence toward women or through a political discourse built on demonizing people. Which brings us to...
- People who are different from us: whether it's unrest in places like Syria and Egypt, conflict between countries or our own discourse, people of different cultures, countries, religions and points of view deserve our respect, not acts of intolerance and violence that degrade or even eliminate them.
- Our vocations, both religious, personal and professional: Archbishop Claudio Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, told members of the Catholic Press in 2012 that a new problem exists in the world today: "people have forgotten how to dream." People have lost the sense that God has a plan for every person. We are not here to waste time, but to pursue the vocation that makes us ever more the person that God intends us to be.
Bishop Wester is bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City and chairman of the Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
(CNS Photo/Paul Haring)
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Pope Francis describes ‘ideological Christians’ as a ‘serious illness’ within the Church (via Raw Story )
Speaking at daily Mass last Thursday, Pope Francis warned Christians against turning their faith into a rigid ideology. “The faith passes, so to speak, through a distiller and becomes ideology,” he said, according to Radio Vatican. “And ideology…
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I was having dinner with the Pope when worried pro-lifers started contacting me about his interview
BY FR. FRANK PAVONE
September 24, 2013 (PriestsforLife.org) - As the Director of Priests for Life, known worldwide as a ministry within the Catholic Church that urges more preaching, teaching, and action against abortion, I was asked by many alarmed and confused people these past few days about the reported comments of the Pope that the Church should not be "obsessed" with this issue, and that there should be "balance" and "context.
Is the pope saying we should talk less about abortion? Is he saying that the emphasis the Church has placed on this issue has been a mistaken emphasis?
When I first received these inquiries via emails and text messages, I was actually in the presence of Pope Francis, in the dining room of his residence. I had spoken just hours earlier, at the invitation of the Vatican, about the Church's defense of the unborn child, and about the clear and strong position of the Church, expressed in many documents, that the right to life is our first right and the foundation and condition for all the others.
So the news came to me with more than a little irony, and I immediately began to tell worried pro-life warriors that they had no reason to think that the Pope no longer wanted the Church to focus on abortion.
Pope Francis preaches on pro-life in a very integral way. He gives strong and clear messages that derive from the very substance of the Faith and a very broad vision of the demands that Faith places upon us. The conclusions and applications for the pro-life movement are undeniable, even if he does not use the specific words “pro-life movement” and “unborn.
This was very clear in his homily at his installation on March 19, when he spoke of the need to protect every person, especially children, from the “Herods” of our day who plot death.
And it was clear again in his Palm Sunday homily, which contained the very strong message to have confidence in the victory of life over death.
He said it this way:
“Let us look around: how many wounds are inflicted upon humanity by evil! Wars, violence, economic conflicts that hit the weakest, greed for money, power, corruption, divisions, crimes against human life and against creation!
"Jesus on the Cross feels the whole weight of the evil, and with the force of God’s love he conquers it, he defeats it with his resurrection.
"Dear friends, we can all conquer the evil that is in us and in the world: with Christ, with the force of good!"
He mentions “crimes against human life,” using the same word the Second Vatican Council used in Gaudium et Spes to describe abortion (an “unspeakable crime”). He urges us to see evil for what it is, and then never to lose confidence in the victory we have over evil, thanks to the death and Resurrection of Christ.
In his recent interview, he made it clear that the Church should put opposition to abortion "in context." This is neither new nor unwelcome. The Pope wants to see the renunciation of abortion put in the context of mercy toward the mother, and this is consistent with the pro-life movement's emphasis on "loving them both." In fact, in my personal conversations with the Pope, he particularly urged me to go forward with the work of Rachel's Vineyard, the largest ministry in the world for healing after abortion. He called it an "excellent work."
The Pope wants the teaching against abortion not to stand alone, as if it were a negotiable moral prohibition, but rather to stand in the context of our teaching about who God is. He made this clear in his June 16 homily at the worldwide "Day of the Gospel of Life" when he declared,
"The Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living one, the one who bestows life and points the way to the fullness of life…The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions -- you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great "Yes!": a yes to God, to Love, to life."
"All too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the "Gospel of Life" but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power, and pleasure, and not by love…As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death."
This approach radically strengthens the Church's opposition to abortion, because the Pope is saying not simply that it breaks the Fifth Commandment ("You shall not kill"), but that more fundamentally it breaks the First Commandment ("You shall not have other gods besides me") and that to disrespect life is to abandon God himself.
Nobody should worry or think that the Pope is in any way diluting the Church's strong and unchangeable stance against abortion, or contradicting all that has already been said and written, in documents like The Gospel of Life, about the urgent priority that this issue deserves. Some 50 million children are killed by abortion around the world each year. If we want to know how much we should focus on it, we only have to use human reason and ask what our response would be if 50 million adults throughout the world were killed each year by terrorism.
Long live the pro-life movement, and long live the Pope!
Sunday, September 22, 2013
The MSM and atholic left and the squishy center is running with Francis’s jump-out quotes (traddies could maybe call them “scare quotes”). If you look at MSM headlines, you take-away will be that Pope Francis is saying that abortion isn’t a big deal or that homosexuality is okay and that the Church doesn’t have a right to tell anyone what to do.
Let’s take a look at a portion of the interview in which Francis talks about . Pay attention to the vocabulary, even though this is a translation. I haven’t yet verified the translation against the original. My and :
“We need to proclaim the Gospel on ,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and , , . In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘’ because they tell me that . During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, . Religion ,but : it is .
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the ?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to . When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.
So, the Pope starting by talking about the healing of what is wounded. He immediately went into the subject of homosexual persons. He talked about the pain they feel. He talked about our compassion and God’s love. Now, in talking about homosexuality he says:
“This is also the great benefit of : evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but . I also consider the situation of a woman with a . Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. ?
“We cannot insist on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is . I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them . The.
Let me repeat:
This is what I think Francis is up to.
I suspect that, while he is Pope, Francis doesn’t want to see the words “Vatican condemns” .
I think that thinks that constant correction and condemnation does more harm than good. BE CAREFUL NOW: Francis said “all the time”. He did not say “we should talk about these things”.
Also, that I think Francis thinks that it is harmful to correct and condemn, etc. It does good, but it also does harm. I think he thinks that, right now, the harm to the Church’s message and motherly character outweighs the good that the correction does. (At least considering the way we have been doing it.)
That is also why he thinks things need to be done more at the local level than by him. He doesn’t want to see “Vatican condemns” or “Pope Francis condemns” all the time. That’s just about the only way that the MSM chooses to pay attention to Popes. If they are not calling for peace, Popes are only reported on when they exercise one of the most important dimensions of their office: saying “No!”
To recap: People who focus just on the comments that Francis made about compassion for homosexuals and “social wounds” or about not talking about abortion all the time or that the Church has no right to “interfere” with people (as if to say that Francis thinks homosexuality is okay or that the Church should be silent in the public square or that we mustn’t talk about abortion) without also underscoring that Francis was talking about things which and that they are matters for confession (read: sins) have his meaning.
Some of you are saying “But Father! But Father! Should any Pope talk this way? Doesn’t he understand that people take him out of context? Should he say any of this?”
I respond that, when I am Pope, I’ll have a different style. Headlines might read something like “POPE NOT SEEN IN PUBLIC FOR 100 DAYS! STILL ALIVE?” But that’s a different can of chowder. Francis is the one in the chair and he gets to speak and act with the freedom of the Vicar of Christ in a world that hasn’t been welcoming the Church’s message for a long time. We shall see what results.
I read what the Pope says. Then I try to figure out what he is really saying, apart from my own preferences about how he should say it. But, hey!. He talks about the Devil in stark terms, more than Benedict ever did. Francis might not talk in philosophical terms about beauty and mystery, and truth – no, wait he did in …. well… as much as Benedict did…. no, wait… Benedict wrote what Francis signed… well… as often as we might prefer. Instead, Francis talks about things like damaging and the sort of ambition that . Oh, Lord, how I have suffered from both gossip and the machinations of the ambitious clerics during my years as a priest. I welcome Francis healing words about these ! These are concrete that are going on than homosexual acts or abortions, which are also . These sins deserve attention also. We know what the sins are. Even people who deny that certain things are sins know that they are sins deep down. Therefore, we can use lots of attention on healing the wounds of sin.
Dear readers, don’t focus only on the jump-out quotes or the scare quotes.
Read the whole context. Let it sink in. Think about it.
On Re-reading the Papal Interview
Ok, I’ll be honest, I came away from the first reading of the pope’s interview on Thursday with some mixed emotions. I was a bit worried that he was promoting the kind of “mercy” in the church which is no more than being a nice guy and letting people off the hook. Certainly that is what the secular press took from the interview: “Oh great, the Pope is all about acceptance and tolerance just like the rest of us….”
On the second reading I took more time to soak up the context. When Pope Francis is talking about “accompanying people” on their journey and “paying attention to the person” he is advocating a deep compassion for the person which neither excuses their sin nor treats it harshly or coldly as just “breaking the rules.” So he says,
The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.”
I was also a bit worried about the “don’t be obsessed with gay marriage, abortion and contraception” line. First of all he doesn’t say that. Here’s the passage:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible… when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
In other words–simple denunciations of poor moral choices don’t connect. People only hear them as stern and arbitrary denunciations from some old guy. For Catholic moral values to be communicated they must be communicated in a whole context with concern for the whole person and every aspect of the complex individual, social, moral and spiritual situation.
He goes on to explain that there are different levels of importance to the doctrinal and moral teachings of the church. The most important is the gospel of Jesus Christ which needs to be proclaimed to a needy world.
“The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
There’s that words “obsessed” it’s the only time it is used in the interview. The Pope is saying it is no good simply throwing out there a grab bag of moral principles and stated doctrinal beliefs and saying “Here. do this and believe that and that is the Catholic faith.” This is exactly what Christian catechesis and life has too often been (not just Catholic). Instead the Pope calls us to live lives radiant with the love of Christ, to proclaim the gospel simply and profoundly and exhibit that love to a needy world.
I like “freshness and fragrance of the gospel” and the proposal of the gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant.”
Mark Shea comments on these same issues here and can’t resist a dig at conservative Catholics who miss the point just as much as the NY Times did.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro said Sept. 20 that the Gospel message of salvation is paramount.
“Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ”
September 20, 2013 10:36 EST
Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 18. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
I haven’t seen an English translation of the entire speech yet; the Italian can be read here. One passage that hasn’t been translated in full in either of the Vatican press office reports on the speech (here and here) has to do with protecting life in two of its most vulnerable stages: the unborn and the elderly. Rorate Caeli posted this translation of that paragraph:
Each one of us is invited to recognize in the fragile human being the face of the Lord, who, in his human flesh, experienced the indifference and loneliness to which we often condemn the poorest, either in the developing nations or in the developed societies. Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ, bears the face of the Lord, who, even before he was born, and then as soon as he was born experienced the rejection of the world. And also each old person and - I spoke of the child, let us also speak of the elderly, another point! And each old person, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the "culture of waste" proposes! They cannot be discarded!
Today the Pope met with members of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations and Catholic gynaecologists, and spoke of the current paradoxical situation of the medical profession. “On the one hand we see progress in the field of medicine, thanks to the work of scientists who passionately and unreservedly dedicate themselves to the search for new cures. On the other hand, however, we also encounter the risk that doctors lose sight of their identity in the service of life”. He referred to the EncyclicalCaritas in Veritate to explain that this paradoxical situation is seen also in the fact that, “while new rights are attributed to or indeed almost presumed by the individual, life is not always protected as the primary value and the primordial right of every human being. The ultimate aim of medicine remains the defence and promotion of life”. Faced with this contradictory situation, the Pope renewed the Church's appeal to the conscience of all healthcare professionals and volunteers, especially gynaecologists. “Yours is a singular vocation and mission, which necessitates study, conscience and humanity”, he said.
Again, Francis spoke of the “throwaway culture” that leads to the elimination of human beings, especially those who are physically and socially weakest. “Our response to this mentality is a ‘yes’ to life, decisive and without hesitation. The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are precious, but this one is fundamental – the condition for all the others”.
Reiterating that in recent times, human life in its entirety has become a priority for the Magisterium of the Church, the Pope emphasised that “goods have a price and can be sold, but people have dignity, they are worth more than goods and have no price”.
Francis asked those present to “bear witness to and disseminate this ‘culture of life’ … remind all, through actions and words, that in all its phases and at any age, life is always sacred and always of quality. And not as a matter of faith, but of reason and science! There is no human life more sacred than another, just as there exists no human life qualitatively more meaningful than another”.