Saturday, September 13, 2008
The other day I posted some email from a relative in Corpus Christi, Texas when she was preparing for the hurricane. I've received email from her tonight. They had nothing--no rain, no wind.
She has a relative by marriage in the path of Ike who was at home alone with 7 animals. They were able to communicate by cell phone when the eye was overhead, but now phone contact has been cut off. Her husband is in Alaska working for an oil company.
I also have a relative in Houston. At last contact a tree had fallen on her house and the water was rushing into the bedroom. Then communication with her was also cut off.
My relative from Corpus Christi reported an aspect of the hurricane I had never considered:
We got one of the hottest days of the year today....my car thermometer said it was 101 degrees out there while I was running errands today. I went to Walmart to exchange some pants that didn't fit, and I had to stand in a long line behind people who were returning the supplies they bought for the hurricane! One lady had a basket full of canned goods and pet food she was returning. I heard someone else talk about returning a generator they'd bought. I feel for those poor store employees.
Good thing Walmart is so big, I guess.
IT WAS INEVITABLE
Abe Foxman isn't happy.
The bishops aren't happy.
It's all Sungenis's fault.
There are times when my religion just leaves me shaking my head in cynical disgust. This is another one of them.
Why should the Jews be given a stake in the wording of the Roman Catholic Catechism?
When dual covenant theology was obviously Robert Sungenis's issue, why do the bishops try so hard to claim it was not?
The catechism was corrected. Dual covenant theology was tossed. Jesus Christ was defended. Now comes the USCCB claiming:
the statement about the Moses covenant was not wrong, just ambiguous and misunderstood.
Phuleeeeese!! Misunderstood? What could have been misunderstood? Either we believe Jesus Christ came to save all, or we believe there are two covenants. You can't have it both ways, and the Jews are not going to like the Catholic way. Don't the bishops understand anything?
I wish they would stop trying to talk out of both sides of their mouth and stand up to defend Jesus Christ. It doesn't seem like a lot to ask.
Credibility, guys...it doesn't come with the miter. It has to be earned after the way you behaved over sexual abuse of minors!
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - Chapter 3
This chapter examines the position of 20th century theologians on the subject. It reveals that the Jesuit moralist we met in Chapter 2, Arthur Vermeersch, who took a hard line on encouraging the priests to probe married couples for infraction of the rules, was the author of Casti Connubii promulgated by Pius XI four months after the Anglican Church voted at the 1930 Lambeth Conference to approve contraception. The encyclical was a response to Lambeth.
We are also told in this chapter that Dietrich von Hildebrand was instrumental in promoting the idea that sexual experiences within marriage "display a depth and gravity which remove them altogether from the province of other bodily experiences":
It is precisely through these experiences, he said, that humans can rise to a realm that is psychological and even spiritual. The marital act has not only a function of generation of children; it also possesses a significance for human beings as such--namely, to be "the expression and fulfillment of wedded love and community life." To overlook the union between physical sex and love or its significance and to recognize only the purely unitarian bond between sex and the propagation of the race is to "degrade man and to be blind to the meaning of this mysterious domain."(p. 20)
German theologian Herbert Doms expanded these insights:
...marital intercourse, was a means of achieving holiness. Doms claimed the marital union is not simply or even mainly a physical union; it is rather a union that is metaphysical because it leaves a permanent imprint on the personalities of husband and wife.(p. 20)
Dom claimed that marital intercourse is not sin. It almost seems amusing that such would have to be stated given that the marital act is a component of the sacrament of marriage, but this development in theological thinking would appear to be quite recent and contrary to the theology of St. Augustine.
...rhythm would certainly spawn a contraceptive mentality among Catholics, leading ultimately to "the heresy of the empty crib."(p. 23)
Jesuit moralist Gerald Kelly claimed
"Only exceptional couples can take up the practice of the 'rhythm-theory' without exposing their married lives to grave dangers; and even those couples usually need the special grace of God."(p. 23)
Today, of course, NFP is taught to couples as they prepare for marriage, and it is taken for granted that they will use it, whether they are "exceptional" or not.
In 1952 the pill arrived on the scene, and disrupted all of the theological speculation.
One reason for its popularity, at least among Catholics, was a growing disillusion with rhythm. It did not work nearly as well in practice as in theory. Lighthearted references to "rhythm babies" were not so funny to couples who found another pregnancy a severe hardship.(p. 25-26)
...[Belgium] theologian Louis Janssens, a veteran commentator on marital morality, declared he could find no essential difference between the use of the pill and the practice of rhythm. In rhythm, he noted, the couple intends to suppress reproduction and does so by carefully calculating the time of ovulation and the time required for the disintegration of the ovum. "All these calculations show quite well that a temporal obstacle is intentionally being placed in the way of the ovum's performing its reproductive function (just as the use of mechanical methods or of coitus interrupts places a spatial obstacle for the same purpose.) (p. 26)
Then a bishop broke ranks on television:
William Bekkers, bishop of 's-Hertogenbosch, Holland, spoke on national television and said the Church does not have answers on these complicated issues and should stop pretending it does; in the meanwhile, couples must rely on their faith and common sense....the married couple--and they alone--can answer the question of what God requires of them concretely in their vocation. They must decide how large their family should be and how their children should be spaced...This is a matter for their own consciences with which nobody should interfere...The Church does not judge situations from a prejudiced, aloof point of view...It knows that what may be attainable for one person is not necessarily so for another.(p. 26-27)
A few thoughts...
It was not known at this time that the pill was abortifacient. Had it been known, the discussion would have changed. No one is suggesting that abortion be deemed moral.
The discussion about marital sex devolved into a discussion of methods to prevent conception. I would submit that in the process the discussion of the meaning of the marital act lost its significance, resulting in the casual sex we have today. Had birth control been accepted, the discussion started by von Hildebrand as to what the act signifies within marriage--specifically the bond that the act represents--might have continued to take place within the general Catholic population. It might have been preserved to its real purpose instead of becoming a recreational pasttime.
Once the marital act had been reduced to whether a child would be conceived or not, and its unitive bond in marriage largely ignored, the advances in birth control that were taking place at the same time opened the sexual act to recreational purposes within the general population, and undermined it's purpose of cementing the marriage commitment. Widespread Catholic divorce followed.
It is easy to see in this disagreement within the Church over BC the sowing of the seeds of dissent that advanced into other areas of theology. Once the teaching of the Church on this one subject became irrelevant to a majority of married couples in the pew, the credibility of the Church's pronouncements on other topics became irrelevant as well.
I personally believe, given the long history of non-reception in the pews of any pronouncements against means of limiting conception, that until non-abortifacient means are approved, the crisis in Catholicism will continue unabated. Advances in medical science are only going to increase the need for reliable contraception as cancer treatment and AIDS is demonstrating.
If a burden is going to be placed on married couples that they find impossible to carry, they are left with two options: 1. Leave the Church, 2. Lie about their sex life. Both of these are unacceptable to anyone who has embraced the faith wholeheartedly.
ROYAL SOCIETY: SCHOOLS SHOULD SHOW CREATIONISM 'RESPECT'
The Royal Society has backed the discussion of creationism in school science classes, kicking off what promises to be a spectacular row amongst the country’s top boffins.
The boffinry talking-shop’s director of education told the British Association’s festival of science in Liverpool that creationism should be examined in school science classes as a legitimate point of view.
VATICAN SAID TO BE SKEPTICAL ABOUT MEDJUGORJE
The Times Online reports:
The Pope has instructed Vatican officials to adopt stricter criteria for the approval of visions of Mary.
As Pope Benedict XVI began his first visit as pontiff to France, being greeted at Paris airport by President Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni, it emerged that he had asked a Spanish Jesuit to draw up new guidelines for bishops around the world on the recognition of reported apparitions.
The Vatican said it had asked Monsignor Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer to launch his investigation because the Pope wanted to avoid "excesses and abuses" of such visions. The pontiff believes bishops should resist being swayed by the emotional reaction of believers and be guided instead by strictly applied "scientific, psychological and theological criteria".
Ignazio Ingrao, Vatican correspondent of the weekly news magazine Panorama, said the inquiry had been prompted because of the readiness of a bishop of Civitavecchia, the port north of Rome, to approve reports that a statue of the Madonna owned by a local family had wept tears of blood. The bishop even claimed to have seen the tears himself while holding the statue in his arms. The bishop was later replaced.
The Vatican is also sceptical about reported Marian apparitions since 1981 at Medjugorge in Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite the fact that the site is visited by two million pilgrims a year.
Friday, September 12, 2008
SARAH PALIN'S RELIGION
It seems to be a topic in question. Jeffrey Weiss, Dallas Morning News blog, says:
Start with the question of whether she's Pentecostal. Here's what I found earlier today:
This is from this summer's Alaska Assemblies of God newsletter:
Superintendent Ted Boatsman, who was Palin's junior high pastor at Wasilla Assembly of God, along with Pastor Mike Rose of Juneau Christian Center, where Palin presently attends church when in Juneau, laid hands on the Governor and led the Council in prayer.
The Assemblies of God is one of the larger Pentecostal denominations in the US.
OTOH, I've found other references to her as attending a non-denominational Christian church in Wasilla. And there's this, from Rev. Rob Schenck:
In his conversation with Gov. Palin and her husband, Todd, he asked about their church life. They told him they were active members of an independent Bible church.
And the Wall Street Journal says,hmm, that she's Lutheran? Which is possible, I suppose, but seems unlikely given the other evidence.
The Associated Press tells us:
Sarah Palin often identifies herself simply as Christian.
Yet John McCain's running mate has deep roots in Pentecostalism, a spirit-filled Christian tradition that is one of the fastest growing in the world. It's often derided by outsiders and Bible-believers alike.
Palin was baptized Roman Catholic as a newborn. She was then baptized in a Pentecostal Assemblies of God church as a teen and attended that church until six years ago, when she and her family adopted a different home church, an independent evangelical church.
Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign, has said Palin attends different churches and does not consider herself Pentecostal.
Details of Palin's religious background and its influence on her public policy are still emerging....
"The fact is she has grown up and has associated with one of our Assemblies of God churches, which is a Pentecostal church, for years," said the Rev. Bill Welch, superintendent of the denomination's Alaska District. "Pentecostalism is bound to have some kind of impact and influence on her."
A Swedish news source tells:
WASILLA, Alaska. Shortly after taking office as governor in 2006, Sarah Palin sent an e-mail message to Paul E. Riley, her former pastor in the Assembly of God Church, which her family began attending when she was a youth. She needed spiritual advice in how to do her new job, said Riley, who is 78 and retired from the church.
"She asked for a biblical example of people who were great leaders and what was the secret of their leadership," Riley said.
He wrote back that she should read again from the Old Testament the story of Esther, a beauty queen who became a real one, gaining the king's ear to avert the slaughter of the Jews and vanquish their enemies. When she is called to serve, God grants Esther a strength she never knew she had.
Riley said he thought Palin had lived out the advice as governor, and would now do so again as the Republican Party's vice-presidential nominee.
Renew America's Marie Jon defends Palin's religious connections:
It is apparent that the prejudiced media wants us to believe that a mainstream denomination such as the Assemblies of God can be compared to the church of "God Damn America." Pentecostals preach a traditional interpretation of the scriptures. There is no Marxist Black Liberation theology taught within their sanctuaries, nor any other quasi-political or racist dogma.
The vicious attacks by the DNC towards the Republican female Vice-Presidential candidate are overwhelming, and speak volumes about the Obama campaign. Their recent remarks more than smack of sexism. Obama continues to get a pass from the agenda-driven media who worships at the altar of liberalism. Our nation, however, was founded upon Judeo-Christian beliefs.
So what, you ask? Well, I've written quite a bit about my fear that Pentecostalism and occultism are two sides of the same coin.
Let me say before going any further, that a man I hold in high esteem for his daily, even hourly, commitment to living for Christ is a member of one of the Assembly of God churches. Many admirable traits can come from this religion. But there is that business of speaking in tongues--something the occultists also do. And there are the other bizarre aspects of Pentecostals, such as being slain in the spirit, and worse, as can be seen among the followers at the Vinyard churches.
So Sarah Palin's Pentecostalism bothers me.
In part V of her continuing series about "The Hijacking of Evangelicalism", Constance Cumbey, in a blog dated Sept. 6 (second one down at her website this morning) related the involvement in Theosophy of Jacob Boehme, and his connection with translator William Law, a connection I have also made some time ago. There is a further connection that she has not yet made. John Wesley was a disciple of William Law, and according to Vinson Synan, Pentecostal historian:
The first American Pentecostal churches began with deep roots in the Wesleyan holiness movement that had spread across America during the 19th century....(THE CENTURY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, p. 98-99)
Most of the first generation of Pentecostals were from this holiness stream that had its roots in Methodism.
When the Pentecostal movement began, these "holiness Pentecostals" simply added the baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues as "initial evidence" of a "third blessing" that brought power for witnessing to those who had already been sanctified....
The first family of American Pentecostal churches, therefore, could be classified as embracing Wesleyan Pentecostalism due to the basic Arminian perfectionistic theology that was inherited from the holiness movement.
So the question becomes, has Sarah Palin been infected with the Theosophical doctrine of Blavatsky, via the Pentecostal route, to the point that she would be sympathetic to the claims of the New Age movement and the push for a One World Government and Religion? It's too soon to know.
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - Chapter 2
This chapter discusses the historical sources of the doctrine that opposes birth control.
Speaking from Scripture:
Nowhere in the Old Testament is there a condemnation of contraception. The only Old Testament citation that seemed to condemn it comes from Genesis 38. Onan was killed by Yahweh because he refused to conceive children with the widow of his brother. Though Onan had relations with the woman, said Genesis, "he let the seed be lost on the ground." Scripture scholars have long been convinced that Onan's capital offense was not coitus interruptus but disobedience toward his father, the evasion of an obligation, and a lack of family loyalty. The books of the Old Testament are replete with regulations regarding proper and improper marital activities. Intercourse during pregnancy, for example, was considered a crime on a par with adultery. Yet, Noonan pointed out, "There is no commandment against contraception in any of the codes of the law." (p. 9)
Need I mention that the conceiving of a child with the widow of a man's brother would today be considered to be a mortal sin?
McClory places the condemnation of contraception in the first century within the teachings of the Stoics.
Said Seneca, perhaps the best known first-century Stoic, "All love of another's wife is shameful; so too, too much love of your own. A wise man ought to love his wife with judgment, not affection."
Herein lay the seed for the early Christian doctrine on marriage. Sex was valid as a biological mechanism for reproduction, not for pleasure. Anything that deprived sexual activity of its generative function was by implication illicit and sinful. (p. 9-10)
He believes the First Century Gnostics are a source of our present doctrine:
In one extreme form, Gnostics declared that intercourse anywhere, anytime, with anyone was not only permissible but even necessary for salvation. One subgroup recommends 365 acts of intercourse a year, with a different partner every day; another put a special, sacral value on oral sex. At an opposite extreme, other Gnostics declared that intercourse is the ultimate evil and must be avoided by any means necessary, including self-castration. On one point most Gnostics were consistent: marriage was an outmoded institution and the procreation of children should be strictly prevented. (p. 10)
In the Fourth Century Augustine enters the picture. Ironically Augustine, a Manichean in his early years, would have absorbed the doctrine that sounds a lot like the Lurianic Kabbalah prominent within Jewish communities today:
The Manichees claimed sparks of light created by the Father (the good god) had been imprisoned in humans and other worldly creatures formed by the Prince of Darkness (the evil god). Humans, according to the seven sacred Manichee books, could release the trapped light by various methods including sexual intercourse (often in ritual form), but for no reason whatsoever could humans cooperate in the conception of another human being, that is, another creature of the Prince of Darkness. (p. 11)
Did Augustine's later aversion to his early Manichee roots prompt his teaching on contraception?
The new Augustine attacked the Manichees for their sexual morals and especially for their hatred of procreation. Ironically, he also found them guilty of practicing rhythm. In one of his books he excoriated the heretics for recommending that conception could be prevented by avoiding intercourse during the fertile days of a woman's period as determined by Greek physicians. (p. 11)
Now, of course, recourse to this infertile period is the heart and soul of Catholic contraception in violation of Augustine's teaching.
But Augustine also rejected marriage outright as a lesser state, claiming "virginity as a better state than marriage" according to McClory.
He maintained that continence within marriage should be preferred over intercourse, telling his disciples, 'insist on the work of the flesh only in such measure as necessary for the procreation of children...
There is in Augustine's analysis no mention of love, noted Noonan. Marriage is instead seen as a legal contract designed for procreation... (p. 12)
It cannot be said, therefore, that we adhere strictly to Augustine's doctrine. We have retained only a portion of it while jettisoning the rest.
Moving ahead to the Twelfth Century and the influences of Catharism McClory writes:
The movement occasioned an ecumenical council, the Fourth Lateran, which condemned the heresy. As before, the authorities relied on Augustine, arguing that carnal intercourse in marriage is licit, though only for reproductive purposes. Conjugal relations solely to avoid adultery or for the satisfaction of lust were regarded by some commentators as venial sins and by many as mortal. In the Canterbury Tales, Chauser's parson advises the faithful that marital relations not for children but "only for amorous love" constitute a mortal sin. (p. 13)
Obviously the rhythm method is a complete reversal of such a notion.
In the Fifteenth Century
In his book THE PRAISEWORTHY LIFE OF THE MARRIED, Denis the Carthusian (a monk) argued that marriage may not be as great a risk for salvation as many had supposed. And Martin de Maistre, a French academic...contended that the traditional doctrine, formulated without any input from married persons, set up unreasonable and intolerable burdens. (p. 14)
Moving ahead to the Sixteenth Century:
The relaxation of the condemnation of usury provided a precedent, but it was not applied to contraception. Through the centuries usury had been condemned in three different ecumenical councils and in language far stronger and more explicit than ever used against contraception. The doctrine was regarded as fixed and unchangeable. Yet within a relatively short period in the sixteenth century, everything changed. Without acknowledging past error, Church authorities found usury an acceptable, even praiseworthy practice. The development of newer economic systems, they said, required the reevaluation of an ancient doctrine. The shift was not strongly opposed because Church organizations, especially bishops and abbots, had a practical interest in the use of credit. (p. 14)
So it cannot be said that an historical doctrine cannot be changed if a council has backed it. And as McClory observes, celibates have no vested interest in issues of married life, which is what makes the lack of input of married persons on this Commission such a glaring deficiency.
Moving to the Sixteenth-Seventeenth Centuries McClory tells us that doctrine once again returned to the repugnance toward pleasure and the old link between sin and sex. He cites the teaching of Pope Sixtus V:
In his bull Effraenatum, Sixtus invoked all the penalties of homicide from both canon and secular laws against those who "proffer potions and poisons of sterility to women and offer an impediment to the conception of a fetus." This amounted to the strongest sanction ever against contraception, and it might well have resulted in massive prosecution were it not for the fact that Church and civil authorities refused to impose it and Church members declined to take it seriously. Effraenatum thus became a prime case of a doctrine "not received" by the Church, even though enjoined by its highest authority. (p. 15)
Sound familiar? Given that no life is conceived when a woman is sterile, this would have been a travesty of justice had it been implemented. In this situation the laity proved wiser than the Church.
Within three years of Sixtus's death, his successor repealed most of the penalties, saying the bull should be regarded "as if it had never been issued." (p. 15-16)
In the Eighteenth-Nineteenth Centuries:
St. Alphonsus Ligouri...founder of the Redemptorist religious order...strove mightily to temper the severe forms of the Augustinian tradition. He upheld the inherent value of marital coitus even in situations where procreation was not a desired goal, and he counseled confessors to preserve the good faith of penitents by not prying too intently into the marital habits. Such was Ligouri's reputation that he almost single-handedly moved the emphasis in marital morality away from the mechanics of the act and toward the concerns and needs of the persons involved in the act....(p. 16)
When Pope Leo XIII in 1880 issued a major encyclical on marriage, he did not even mention coitus interruptus or any other form of contraception....instead Leo stressed the holiness and sacramentality of marriage.
Certainly a stress on the holiness of marriage is a reversal of the Augustine doctrine.
In the Nineteenth-Twentieth Centuries, "concern about a declining birth rate...prompted Church authorities to move agressively against contraception." A reversal of the prior leniency came about, but again the motivation is not the good of the married couple, but rather the good if demographics in the Church:
In 1886, for example, the Vatican Sacred Penitentiary said confessors who have "founded suspicions" should regularly interrogate penitents, instruct those found to be practicing birth control on the seriousness of their sin, and refuse absolution unless they promised to cease the practice. It remained unclear what "founded suspicions" meant. The order was virtually ignored.(p. 17)
Then in the early 1900s condemnations became explicit when the Jesuit moralist Arthur Vermeersch, who was to have great influence on twentieth-century morality of marriage, entered the scene. Through his writings and growing reputation, he persuaded the Belgian bishops to take the Vatican's strict directives more seriously. Eventually explicit condemnations of contraceptive practices were invoked by Church leaders in France, Germany, and the United States. In some diocese bishops required their priests to inquire into the practices of every married person coming to confession even if the priest had no foundation for suspicion.
McClory tells us that Msgr. John A. Ryan attempted to modify the practice in America claiming that birth-control was a wide-spread practice of American Catholics whom he believed did not perceive it as a mortal sin. He recommended their good faith not be disturbed. Is this perhaps, the source of the practice mentioned by a commenter here that one did what was needed in marriage and told the world what the priests expected to hear?
It would appear from McClory that this controversy is long-standing and that input from married couples has never been sought. It also appears that married couples have long ignored the requirements of the Church. Our present upheaval over contraception is nothing new. But the Church's acceptance of rhythm does not go back to the Early Church, and in fact is a relatively recent development given the commands of Pope Sixtus V.
One question that has occurred to me more than once while reading the book is whether a certain aversion to sex must develop within the mind of men who consecrate their lives to celibacy, and whether this aversion has had a strong impact on the teaching on contraception throughout the centuries?
Something else has occurred repeatedly in reading this book...the passage from Acts 15:5-11. In the passage, which discusses the need for circumcision of the Gentiles who were converting to the faith, Peter asks: "Why, then, are you now putting God to the test by placing on the shoulders of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear?" I think that sums up the present situation that has an overwhelming majority of Catholics ignoring the prohibitions of the Church against birth control.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - Chapter 1
The Commission, established by Pope John XXIII and continued by Pope Paul VI, met a total of four times:
1963 - Six people invited by the Pope to participate
April 1964 - Thirteen people invited--the first six plus 7 more
June 1964 - Two additional people invited
1965 - Forty-three more invited
April 1966 - Twenty-nine more invited for a total of 72
The original six members were Rev. Stanislas de Lestapis, S.J., sociologist; Dr. John Marshall, neurologist; Rev. Clement Mertens, S.J., demographer; Rev. Henri de Riedmatten, O.P., diplomat; Dr. Pierre von Rossum, internist; and Prof. Jacques Mertens de Wilmars, economist.
What is particularly striking is that there are no women involved in this initial discussion, and three of the members are presumably celibate men. There is no indication whether the non-priests were married men. This is the original team assembled to determine if birth control should be allowed to married couples.
Additional members added for the second and third meetings included nine men, seven of them priests.
Pat and Patty Crowley were invited for the fourth meeting in 1965. Another married couple, the Potvins, were also invited, as was Mrs. Marie Rendu. Apart from them, the rest were men, with the majority being members of the priesthood. The fifth meeting saw "Cardinals and bishops appointed as the official Commission members for the fifth and final meeting - 1966". There were no women or married couples represented at this last "official" meeting. In other words, the popes chose as advisors on a topic intimately related to the married state, a significant number of men who had never experienced it.
Commission members were forbidden to take photos even with their own cameras until after the final session on the last day. Pat and Patty snapped some group shots with their Polaroid, producing the only known photographs of the historic gathering.National Catholic Reporter in 1967, the Pope was so distressed he wrote indignant letters to all the bishops on the Commission It is possible that the remaining papers, some twelve volumes in all, may have meet the same fate as the background papers for Pius XI's precedent-setting encyclical of 1930, Casti Connubii. That material simply disappeared in the recesses of the Vatican, as if dropped down a bottomless well. (p. 3)
Most of the reports and records of the Commission turned over to Pope Paul VI at the conclusion have never been released by the Vatican. When some crucial ones were leaked to the
Security is said by the author to have been heavy at every session. Among the crucial questions being discussed was whether Church doctrine could be changed:
Throughout its existence the Church has found it difficult to acknowledge mistakes. Yet mistakes there have been. Few would deny that the condemnation of Galileo was a mistake. The Crusades were a mistake. The various Inquisitions were mistakes. The virtual selling of indulgences in the sixteenth century was a mistake. The failure to take any clear stand against human slavery for nineteen hundred years was a mistake....Each of these represented a stance taken or an approval given by the Church at its highest levels...(p. 3-4)
In clear, no-nonsense language Pope Pius XI declared in his encyclicalCasti Connubii that acts of artificial contraception are and always will be "intrinsically evil". "Intrinsically," as unanimously understood by theologians, means "in its very nature" or "in itself." Intrinsically evil acts therefore would never be permitted for any reason whatsoever. The "intrinsically evil" label has not been lightly applied in moral matters. Killing another human being is not considered intrinsically evil--the fifth commandment notwithstanding. Taking another's possessions against that person's will is not regarded as intrinsically evil--the seventh commandment notwithstanding. In these and similar cases, say moralists, circumstances may justify the action: self-defense in the case of killing, for example, or providing food for a starving human being in the case of stealing. But no circumstance--physical, psychological, eugenic, social, or economic--can be called forth to justify an action that is intrinsically (in its very nature) considered evil. And artificial contraception (which includes every form of birth control but rhythm) was declared intrinsically evil in the encyclical. (p. 4-5)
Why, then, was there no commandment forbidding something which would appear, from the "intrinsically evil" designation, to be morally worse than those actions forbidden by specific commandments? Did God not know about birth control when He issued His guidelines? Why is there nothing in Scripture that specifically addresses birth control?
This then was the context for the Pontifical Commission. Could the Church change its unambiguous position on contraception less than forty years after it had been stated so solemnly? No time here for the sands of history to mercifully cover the grave. Could it somehow alter its position so as to allow exceptions without admitting that a mistake had been made?(p. 5)
At the same time the Birth Control Commission was meeting, the Second Vatican Council was also taking place:
The Second Vatican Council...stressed the concept of the Holy Spirit's presence not just in the magisterium...but in "the faithful of every rank." It spoke of the ancient "sense of the faithful" as an important instrument in determining correct teaching and interpretation. Many theologians even discussed the "consent of the faithful"--that is, the acceptance of a Church teaching by the people--as one of the factors that identify the Church's actual belief. The Commission represented an experiment in some of those ideas...(p. 5-6)
To be continued...
CHANGING THE SUBJECT BRIEFLY...
I have never liked politics. This election year it seems critical to share information since the news media is failing to do it, but this is not meant to be a political blog, so I'm changing the subject, no matter how briefly.
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory.
I finished the book last week and found it an eye-opener. Before I even begin to comment on the book, McClory has written another titled FAITHFUL DISSENTERS: STORIES OF MEN AND WOMEN WHO LOVED AND CHANGED THE CHURCH. According to Amazon's review of this book the subjects discussed are "Gallileo, Hildegard of Bingen, St. Thomas Aquinas, and other luminaries and lesser knowns [who] challenged the church authorities or teachings of their time...some who simply ignored mandates or opposed positions taken by church leaders, and others who pushed the envelope of ecclesiastical authority....Mc Clory writes, for example, of Mary MacKillop, an Australian nun who was excommunicated in 1871 for challenging a bishop's efforts to govern her religious community. More than a century later, Pope John Paul II declared her "blessed."
That is McClory's position.
The book that I want to discuss concerns the famous (or infamous, depending upon your point of view) Birth Control Commission of Pope Paul VI. Given the impact of Humane Vitae on the Church, and thus on the world, it would seem prudent to learn something about the lead-up to that encyclical, and this commission was a major contributor. Yet we hear almost nothing about it, and the records of it are not available. McClory's book was published in 1997, but I just discovered it this summer.
The book is sub-titled "The Inside Story of the Papal Birth Control Commission, and How Humane Vitae Changed the Life of Patty Crowley and the Future of the Church." Patty Crowley and her husband were members of the Commission.
Speaking of the efforts on the part of a small group within the Papal Commission, to undo the work of the entire body, in the Foreword to TURNING POINT McClory writes:
...Ottaviani and his four supporters on the Papal Commission were passionately opposed to changes in the teaching on contraception. After the official Commission was disbanded, they met and constructed a minority report, which they then submitted to the Pope.Humane Vitae appeared. The Crowleys could hardly believe it, and like many others reacted with bitter disappointment at the surprising turn of events. Soon widespread protests occurred, with the signed dissent of six hundred theologians, many statements from other Catholic organizations, and outcries from individuals. Statements by many bishops conferences also attempted to soften the teaching and leave room for the dissent of individual conscience....
The machinations and pressure tactics that then ensued as the small group of conservatives sought to destroy and nullify the Commission's report would be material for a farce if the results were not so tragic. Paul VI was torn, but finally gave in to Ottaviani and the arguments of his supporters. Since all this maneuvering was done in secret, there was a great deal of shock when
Don't ask, don't tell, is the order of the day.
If you are a young Catholic today and didn't live through it, you can't imagine the earthquake this encyclical represented. I truly believe that all of the dissent, confusion, and sometimes outright heresy that followed, ultimately culminating in the sexual abuse scandal, can be laid at the door of Pope Paul VI's encyclical. It was that important. For that reason it deserves a closer look.
Ottaviani was a leader in protests over Vatican II with his book THE OTTAVIANI INTERVENTION: SHORT CRITICAL STUDY OF THE NEW ORDER OF MASS. He was no stranger to dissent when the Council decisions were being implemented, so one cannot just package his story in a "magisterium" box and close the lid. He believed he was defending Tradition, and in the process rejected even the beliefs of the reigning pontiff.
Returning to the Foreword, McClory writes:
But what of the victorious villains in this melodrame? Since they won, at least in the short run, they also have negative lessons to impart. Yes, they appeared to believe sincerely that artificial contraception was intrinsically evil. But whenever queried, these opponents of change also admitted that they could not give rational arguments for their convictions; they held to their position solely because for the past forty years Roman Church authorities had so taught. Their primary allegiance and most passionate belief was that the Church must never admit to error or even to changes that might look like an admission of error.
What would they say now when John Paul II admitted to error and apologized on several occasions? When Benedict XVI apologized for the sexual abuse scandal? Would they dissent over this as well?
More to the point, the conservatives ensured that the little known theological doctrine that a teaching must bereceived in order to have been successfully taught in the Church becomes ever more acclaimed and widespread.
To Be Continued...
I have a family member living on the coast of Texas in the path of Ike. Her email Tuesday evening describes the situation on the ground. She works with mental health patients, who are the people she refers to as "our residents". As of this morning Ike is anticipated to hit on Saturday.
I went to the grocery this evening to stock up; and bottled water, canned food, pet food, etc. was just about gone. People were lined up at gas stations. Jim said the home repair shop was out of plywood to board up windows. Everybody is acting crazy!!
We've decided to ride it out and not evacuate, unless it's a category 5 storm or something. Luckily, this house has metal shutters on the windows so we don't have to board up. We've got everything we need, so we're ready. We'll probably get the word tomorrow about whether or not our residents at work will be allowed to evacuate. If so, then tomorrow will be spent helping them contact their families and get out of there. It's gonna be an interesting week!
I heard that hotel rooms farther up country are hard to come by, because there are still evacuees from Louisiana living in them. Apparently, FEMA has told the hotels they can stay until Saturday! So folks from this coast are just out of luck!
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Total Catholic reports:
Catholics who have signed up to a social networking site received a message from Pope Benedict in their inbox on Monday.
Xt3.com – which stands for Christ in the third millennium – was launched for World Youth Day in Australia in July. Since then, more than 35,000 people from 170 countries have signed up to the site.
Pope Benedict’s message asked for prayers for his visit to France this weekend and also praised the faith of young Catholics.
Robert Toone, project director of Xt3.com, said: “We are delighted and deeply honoured to receive the Pope’s message. His Holiness is displaying his usual readiness to use the latest technology in his desire to communicate with young people.”
Mr Toone said the site had started as the official social network for World Youth Day Sydney 2008 and that its ongoing focus was to “bring people together from all around the world who want to share their experiences, support each other and work together to build a better world”.
Read the rest...
OBAMA'S PUBLIC ALLIES
Barack Obama was a founding member of the board of Public Allies in 1992, resigning before his wife became executive director of the Chicago chapter of Public Allies in 1993. Obama plans to use the nonprofit group, which he features on his campaign Web site, as the model for a national service corps. He calls his Orwellian program, "Universal Voluntary Public Service."
Big Brother had nothing on the Obamas. They plan to herd American youth into government-funded reeducation camps where they'll be brainwashed into thinking America is a racist, oppressive place in need of "social change."
The pitch Public Allies makes on its Web site doesn't seem all that radical. It promises to place young adults (18-30) in paid one-year "community leadership" positions with nonprofit or government agencies. They'll also be required to attend weekly training workshops and three retreats.
In exchange, they'll get a monthly stipend of up to $1,800, plus paid health and child care. They also get a post-service education award of $4,725 that can be used to pay off past student loans or fund future education.
But its real mission is to radicalize American youth and use them to bring about "social change" through threats, pressure, tension and confrontation — the tactics used by the father of community organizing, Saul "The Red" Alinsky.
"Our alumni are more than twice as likely as 18-34 year olds to . . . engage in protest activities," Public Allies boasts in a document found with its tax filings. It has already deployed an army of 2,200 community organizers like Obama to agitate for "justice" and "equality" in his hometown of Chicago and other U.S. cities, including Cincinnati, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh and Washington. "I get to practice being an activist," and get paid for it, gushed Cincinnati recruit Amy Vincent.
There's that name again. Saul Alinsky. It keeps popping up in stories about Obama like a red flag waving.
Citizen Wells tells us:
"Make no mistake about it: “change” was always Alinsky’s code word for creating a socialist revolution, even if the methodology meant radicals would cut their hair, put on business suits, and run for political office. Alinsky taught organizers to hide their true intentions in the words they spoke. Denying the truth or just plain lying were both acceptable tactics, as long as the cause was advanced.”
Michelle Malkin is covering it as well.
Thanks to Susanna for finding these stories.
Monday, September 08, 2008
NIGERIAN MONEY TO ENCOURAGE AMERICAN NIGERIANS TO VOTE
A Nigerian group backing US senator Barack Obama for president has told the BBC the money it raised from a gala event was never meant for his campaign.
It is illegal for campaign groups outside the United States to donate funds to US political parties.
Earlier this week, the Obama campaign wrote to the Nigerian press saying it was not affiliated to Africans for Obama and would not accept its money.
The group said it wanted to use the funds to urge US Nigerians to vote.
Tickets to the lavish event in Lagos on 11 August cost more than $21,000 (£11,000) for an eight-person table.
Africans for Obama chairwoman Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, who is also the head of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, told the BBC News website there had been a misunderstanding in the press regarding the event.
"We never said we were going to donate money for the campaign," she said.
"We paid for the hall and the entertainers and the surplus we said would be spent on advertisements aimed at persuading Nigerians to tell their relatives in America to register to vote.
"There is not one Nigerian who doesn't have a relative or friend in America. Our aim was to encourage those people to tell their family who have the right to vote in America to vote for Obama."
NIGERIANS FOR OBAMA
SATANIC INFLUENCE IN NIGERIA
The sordid adventure of the rusticated chairman of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), former ambassador Sam Edem, has thrown some light on the hidden exploits of our elite in the mystical world of the occult. Many high-society Nigerians, like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, are either deeply involved or have dabbled in and out of the kingdom of darkness. In the last political dispensation, we witnessed the clear faces of forces aligned with Satan and arrayed against God. Nominally, many of our political leaders, past and present, from Chief Obasanjo downward, just like Edem, would identify themselves as christians. Yet, in reality, they are Anti-Christ.
The work of the devil in the world is accomplished by his minions through the infliction of unutterable pain on the society in which they live, in exchange for personal favours. For example, just ponder what it means for US$ 10 billion to US$ 16 billion to be squandered by government on purported power supply, with the consequence of a worse situation than when the administration came into office. Then, multiply this mystery with other such scenarios in other sectors of the economy, bad roads, poorly equipped schools and hospitals, squalid housing and environment, etc. Such criminal misrule, wastage and plunder of national wealth were not what they seemed to ordinary eyes. It was all orchestrated from the underworld. Consider the secret cult contents of the past disturbances in Anambra, Enugu, Rivers, Oyo and other states. In Anambra, for instance, former Governor Chris Ngige's effort to renege on long-standing devilish oaths to share government funds among godfathers was stubbornly resisted, nearly costing him his life after he was kidnapped. There followed turbulence, violence, arson and other criminal acts, fully backed by the federal government. Those responsible had blood ties with Obasanjo, that is, they had some mystical intimacy or bondage.
In Oyo, another of Obasanjo's underworld friends, the late Lamidi Adedibu, ran a bloody mob organisation that was superior to the state government and received large sums of money from security votes. In Rivers State, assassinations and senseless killings were the order of the day both for political and sacrificial purposes, with politicians close to Obasanjo being fingered today as culprits. In Enugu State (Ebeano) run by Chimaroke Nnamani, was allegedly notorious for fetish, robberies, sexual crimes and violent killings.
All these atrocities, in violation of God's Ten Commandments, and the christian leaders who perpetrated them, point to the high level of Satanic operations now pervasive in our country.
Read the rest...(it's slow to load)
CANCER JOURNAL - NOT A CHEAP DATE
"I think, therefore I am" said Descartes. The more down to earth philosophy of my Red Hat group is "I'm still breathing, therefore I'm entitled to chocolate martinis." We try hard to keep the commitment to our philosophy at every Red Hat luncheon.
"Let's go out to dinner after Mass Saturday night," my husband offered. I haven't forgotten my dating days, even tho they were a lifetime ago. A Saturday date with the man in my life is a sure bet. He knew I wouldn't say no.
A little restaurant out in the country, halfway to Pennsylvania, has fond memories for us. We settled on steak at Ben's. Heading out to the restaurant was a pleasant drive, and we arrived at the tail end of the dinner rush. By the time the bloomin onion remains and dregs of my chocolate had been cleared and the steak arrived, we had the section where we were sitting all to ourselves. All the better to whisper sweet nothings of long ago memories without being noticed, and to wonder why I was just as sober after the chocolate as I was before it. Well, nothin's perfect.
I was about half way through my steak when I started feeling a bit lightheaded. I put the knife and fork down and sat back. Husband asked what was wrong. Apparently I had started looking a bit peculiar. I told him I was going outside for some air and got up. He got up as well with the intention of stopping me. Five steps later he was catching me as I fell to the floor unconscious, but only for a short time.
The next thing I remember I was sitting on a chair with a crowd around me and paramedics on the way. I assured them I would be fine in a short while. They got out the EKG. According to my husband I looked like I was having a heart attack and felt cold and clammy while the sweat ran down my face. There were murmurs of an irregular heartbeat and my blood pressure was too low. No one was hearing my claim that I would be fine or that I was not going to go to a hospital.
They gave me a choice of one in Youngstown--even further away from home--or the hospital where the unexplained blood clots had mysteriously appeared--the ones that the technician in another hospital couldn't find. I asked to go to the hospital where my oncologist practices. They said no.
In the emergency room there was a guard with a bullet-proof vest and a man in the next cubicle who kept admitting to more and more beer as the staff kept asking him how many he had drunk. He was vomiting and complaining about a stomachache. Out on the lawn in front of the emergency room there were loud voices and talk about marijuana. A woman in a bad frame of mind came into the hospital but was later escorted out by police.
After a few hours and more radiation, they still hadn't found a reason I passed out. All of the tests they ran turned up negative, but they weren't about to let me go home, and I wasn't about to be admitted to the hospital I didn't trust. We were at odds but finally compromised on another ambulance ride. The doctor asked me why I hadn't just gone to my hospital of choice in the first place.
The paramedic who rode with me in ambulance No. 2 was on a 24 hour shift. By now it was 3 a.m. and she was scheduled to go off-duty at 6:30. She was tired and frustrated by her previous transport. He had been high and homeless and needed a place to crash, so he called for an ambulance to get him to his preferred motel--the hospital emergency room. He spent the ride complaining about everything and making demands. She said it was unlikely the ambulance company would be paid for their service to him, and equally unlikely that the hospital would be paid. She said one hospital was petitioning to close their emergency room for this very reason. It happens all the time.
The remainder of the night and Sunday morning in hospital No. 2 was spent on more blood tests and an echo-cardiogram all of which turned up normal. Around 8 the doctor on call from my oncologist's practice told me I would be spending another night there. Around 8:30 the doctor on the hospital staff told me I could go home. I hadn't yet had any sleep.
I finally did get home in the early afternoon and got a couple hours of sleep. Then last night I slept 12 hours, and I'm still groggy.
I've always enjoyed doing new things and seeing new places. The inside of an ambulance was a novelty, though I think my husband would have preferred cheaper transportation back from our restaurant in the country. The room at the second hospital was quite surprising. As I was wheeled into it I took note of the bathroom that looked like a hotel bathroom. The room was large with four guest chairs, wood laminate floor, pictures of flowers on the wall and only one bed. The nurse explained the eating arrangements. I was to call down to the kitchen when I got hungry. Room service was on call from 6 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and the room service menu was on my bed table. This particular wing of the hospital had been completed a couple of months before. It is now possible to be sick in luxury, which apparently the drunks and drug users know better than I do. It seems that the news about Hotel Hospital has made the rounds.