Saturday, September 20, 2008
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 35 | Friday, September 19, 2008
Oprah and All Her Works and All Her Empty Promises
Of late I am increasingly frightened by something I see happening in our culture: it is the seeming superficial-ization of everything in American life to the point of absurdity and deception. The prime culprit of course is the ubiquitous mass media (especially 24-hour cable programming and the internet) and its constant dumbing down of the American consciousness to the lowest common denominator of the most tantalizing sound bites and images. The other bad boy is the interminable chatter/commentary by clever cultural sharpshooters: it’s so bad sometimes that it makes me wonder if we can actually pull ourselves out of our co-dependence upon charlatans. What makes my priest’s heart so heavy is that I think our society is going down the path of deep spiritual degradation, and it doesn’t look like this trend will be ending any time soon. Certainly not in an election season.
Case in point: Oprah. Our country’s richest woman is easily one of the most spiritually bankrupt people in America and also one of the most shockingly popular. How does a New Age con artist like Oprah get so many people to literally adore her? She did not make $260 million last year by feeding people solid food. She deals in fads, feelings and frauds—it’s that simple—and apparently she is very effective at convincing people to follow her well-packaged crock of nonsense. Of a recent political speech, she admitted fawningly that she had “cried her eyelashes off” when she heard it, and I am sure her crocodile tears were persuasive to her vast audience. For people schooled in the truth, the reaction would be very different: I saw the same speech and could barely keep myself from throwing up, but they don’t pay me $260 million a year.
When asked why she refused to interview her anointed one’s political opponent, she balked and got caught in a nasty public relations double-bind which is what usually happens to people who play games with their own popularity. Her refusal would have been easier to swallow if she had just said simply that she didn’t like the other candidate and didn’t want her on the show; that we can accept! But then again, basic honesty is probably above Oprah’s pay grade. The truth is that Oprah has put her social clout to partisan political use, and when she was called on to be fair, she just couldn’t admit that she was playing the political hack.
I do think Oprah’s menace is fundamentally spiritual though, and that it feeds off the growing spiritual superficiality of the American populace. Its treachery is not to be underestimated. Oprah not only believes in but forcefully advocates pernicious New Age trends like Helen Schucman’s A Course In Miracles and Eckhart Tolle’s terrible esoteric movement that is trampling down Christian values and opening up a spiritual vacuum in the hearts of millions as we speak. Having the life sucked out of our souls by spiritually bankrupt “celebrities” is a slow spiritual death, to put it mildly. However, Oprah is just the worst case scenario of what is reaching epidemic proportions in a personality-obsessed, spiritually infantile and media-saturated culture. The most popular show in American prime-time is not called “American Idol” for nothing: we are literally becoming a nation of idol-worshippers.
What can we do about all the deceptive cultural garbage clamoring to fill our vulnerable souls? Well, the Church has always had the answer and never ceases to instruct us in the discipline that will bring our souls down that “narrow way” of Christ. We are to “reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises”—that would include all his idols too. We are to consume the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth and say “yes” when we mean “yes” and “no” when we mean “no.” As Jesus said, “everything else is from the devil.”
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life Int
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - chapter 9
This chapter concentrates on Pope Paul VI's indecision. As McClory describes it, major voices drawing him left and right included:
Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of the Holy Office - opposed any change in the Church's position on birth control
Henri de Riedmatten, secretary of the commission - in favor of reform
Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens - a voice for reform who subsequently abandoned the discussions and, with the Pope's blessing, took up the charismatic movement
These men had direct access to the Pope, unlike other members of the commission.
In a remarkable interview with Italian journalist Alberto Cavallari at this time,[Pope] Paul groaned about his fate: "So many problems! How many problems there are, and how many answers we have to give! We want to be open to the world, and every day we have to make decisions that will have consequences for centuries to come....There are some questions that are particularly difficult for us, such as those connected with the problem of the Christian family.
"Take birth control, for example. The world asks what we think and we find ourselves trying to give an answer. But what answer? We can't keep silent. And yet to speak is a real problem. But what? The Church has never in her history confronted such a problem." Then, said Cavallari, the Pope started to say something, hesitated, then blurted out "This is a strange subject for men of the Church to be discussing. Even humanly embarrassing....So the commissions meet, the reports pile up, the studies are published. Oh, they study a lot, you know. But then we will have to make the final decision....We have to say something. But what? God will simply have to enlighten us." (p. 79)
WAS THE PAPAL VISIT TO FRANCE A SUCCESS ?
Is the Catholic Church a beleaguered underdog, fighting for a voice in secular Europe, or a still-mighty power, wielding its influence on European law through friendly center-right governments?
Pope Benedict XVI offered communion at a special Mass in Lourdes, the pilgrimage site in France, during a recent visit.
That question, which has been building momentum throughout Pope Benedict XVI’s three-year-old papacy, came mightily to the fore in his recent trip to France.
Yet even as the pope calls for more animated discussion of church and state and more interreligious dialogue, no one, probably not even at the Vatican, expects Europe to become newly devout any time soon. Mass attendance is at record lows, as is the number of priests.
Nor does anyone expect France to overturn its dearly held tenet of “laïcité,” a strict separation of church and state, in spite of the pope’s admonition that secularism leads to nihilism and President Nicolas Sarkozy’s calls for a more “positive laïcité.”
But Benedict’s insistence that religion and politics be “open” to each other — coupled with his strong renewal while in Lourdes of the church’s opposition to same-sex couples, communion for the divorced and euthanasia — sends a direct message: the church doesn’t want European law to be at odds with church teaching, and he wants Catholics to make some noise about it.
Read it here.
PATRIARCH BARTHOLOMEW I AT SYNOD
Pope Benedict has invited Bartholomew I, Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church, to attend his October 2007 Synod. The Patriarch accepted.
Read it here...
Friday, September 19, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
by Robert McClory - chapter 8
In a bizarre little twist, accommodations for participants at the Birth Control Commission's fourth meeting in 1965 were arranged in such a way that there was little opportunity for practicing the forbidden process, or for husband and wife to discuss the commission's progress. What it does reveal to me is the lack of understanding of the nature of marriage by the presumably celibate men (and women?) who were organizing the event and advising the Pontiff.
The fourth meeting of the Commission was held on March 25 through March 28, 1965, at the newly constructed Spanish College, a seminary on the outskirts of Rome. The unusual presence of women at a top-level Vatican meeting resulted initially in an awkward situation. When the Crowleys, Rendus, and Potvins arrived, they were informed by de Riedmatten that husbands would have their living quarters at the college, while the three wives, along with two unaccompanied women on the Commission, would stay at a sisters' convent a mile down the road. The couples took the enforced separation in stride, and Pat [Crowley]'s quip, "I guess that's one way to solve the problem," was later quoted in a range of publications from theLadies Home Journal to the Paris Match. (p. 67 - bolding mine)
Opinions expressed at the fourth meeting:
** By Spanish Jesuit Zalba: "...current doctrine is not only irreformable but infallible. He cited the centuries-old condemnation of coitus interruptus, the teaching of procreation as marriage's primary end, and the prohibition of direct sterilization..."We stand before a practically uninterrupted tradition," he said.
** By John Ford: [He] concurred, quoting strong language from Casti Connubii: "This prescription...is in full force now as it was before, and so it will be tomorrow and forever, because it is not a mere human enactment but the expression of a natural and divine law....If that isn't infallible language, what is?"
** By Canon Philip Delhaye: Casti Connubii and other authoritative documents should be regarded...not as doctrine strictly speaking but as "pastoral guidance"--that is, explanations or updates on earlier decrees and therefore subject to modification in the light of changed circumstances. Moral matters do not lend themselves well to ultimate, unchangeable judgments...
** Jesuit Joseph Fuchs: ...the doctrine can indeed be reformed. [This represented a reversal of the position he held one year before when he came to the commission. McClory says it was in response to learning from Dr. Marshall about the fallibility of rhythm.]
** Canon Pierre de Locht and Bishop Joseph Reuss: ...the present teaching can be reformed.
** Fuchs: ...he argued, approval of the pill could open the door to the condom, coitus interruptus, and other contraceptive methods.
** de Locht: With the exception of abortion..."no method can be called intrinsically bad or good. They are all unimportant in themselves and their moral significance lies in the life of the husband and wife. Obviously, some methods are theoretically more efficient than others...It is not fertility that decides the moral value of methods; it is the way in which these methods, with greater or lesser merit, preserve the significance and authenticity of conjugal intimacies."
Haring: reiterated his own conviction that marriage as a whole ought to be open to new life but that doesn't mean every single sexual encounter between husband and wife must be."
Quotes taken from pp 70-71)
Patty Crowley remarked: "Some of those men seemed to live only in a world of ideas." (p. 71)
The Crowley's surveyed the Catholic Family Movement constituency and reported their findings to the commission:
Most say they think there must be a change in the teaching on birth control. Very few know what this change should be; they are puzzled but hopeful.(p. 72)
"We understand that when the Church was considering the problem of what to do about reviewing the teaching on usury, the testimony of business people was heard and considered. If there is any parallel between the teaching of usury and the teaching on family limitation, then possibly there is a precedent for the testimony of those most affected by the doctrine....Many of the couples have large families--six to thirteen children. Most are able to educate and support the children. Some have intermittent financial, physical, and in a few cases, psychological problems....Most expressed dissatisfaction over the rhythm method for a variety of reasons, running from the fact that it was ineffective, hard to follow; and some had psychological and physiological objections."
One father of six wrote: "Rhythm destroys the meaning of the sex act; it turns it from a spontaneous expression of spiritual and physical love into a mere bodily sexual relief; it makes me obsessed with sex throughout the month. It seriously endangers my chastity; it has a noticeable effect upon my disposition; it makes necessary my complete avoidance of all affection toward my wife for three weeks at a time....Rhythm seems to be immoral and deeply unnatural. It seems to me diabolical."
A mother who used both the basal temperature and calendar methods, said: "I find myself sullen and resentful of my husband when the time for sexual relations finally arrives. I resent his necessarily guarded affection during the month and I find I cannot respond suddenly. I find also that my subconscious dreams and unguarded thoughts are inevitably sexual....All this in spite of a ...generally beautiful marriage and home life." (p. 73)
A couple, both thirty-three, wrote: "As busy parents raising children, we know few moments of complete harmony and personal communion. Our physical and spiritual union, when it does occur, is just such a moment. It should not be subjected to scientific and metaphysical scrutiny. We do not believe that every time a man and wife feel a need to express their love to each other that it is a 'call from God' to raise more kids. Neither is it a resurgence of the base and selfish sex drive....We are frail and lonely people holding to the only mutual concern and affection we really know." (p. 73-74)
Pat and Patty were convinced change was coming. All signs pointed that way: the theologians' strong vote on reformability; the mellowing of some conservatives; the eagerness of the members to hear the voice of the people; the Pope's encouraging words. They were not alone in that assessment. In his fifty-eight-page report to the Holy Father (along with fifty-nine section reports), the usually cautious de Riedmatten wrote, "Everybody, conservative or progressive, theologians or laymen, all are convinced of the necessity for the Church to make a fresh move in order to face up to the distress of conscience and the needs arising from the facts that cannot be denied....Any move could only be within the framework of the teaching of Christ and of the Church." (pp 75-76)
I think that it is worth noting that had a move to accept contraception been made at the time of the commission and Vatican II, the abortifacient pill would have been accepted along with other methods; and we would now be faced with the historical precedent of acceptance of abortion by the Pope, with the inevitable ramifications this would present to a defense of a pro-life position.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
by Robert McClory - Chapter 7
...1964 was marked by a remarkable sustained rise in the lay voice on the subject of birth control. The book WHAT MODERN CATHOLICS THINK ABOUT BIRTH CONTROL, presented the insights of twelve lay Catholics, all professionals in a variety of disciplines, most of whom argued that marital sexuality stood at a threshold requiring development of the old doctrine. In a second book, THE EXPERIENCE OF MARRIAGE, thirteen couples expressed their views and made at least two clear points: a majority of couples find rhythm frustrating and not very effective; and many couples resent the narrow interpretation of marital relations presented by celibate theologians who formulate doctrine by talking to one another. Several cited Cardinal John Henry Newman's pioneer easay ON CONSULTING THE FAITHFUL ABOUT DOCTRINE. In it Newman showed how the laity on more than one occasion had prevented the whole Church from lapsing into heresy, even when the majority of bishops seemed fully prepard to lapse.(pp 57-58)
At the October 1964 session of Vatican II, during discussions Cardinal Emile Leger, archbishop of Montreal told the assembly:
"Many theologians think that our present difficulties derive from an inadequate presentation of the goals of marriage. We have had a pessimistic, negative attitude toward love. This schema[The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World] is intended to amend these conceptions and clarify love and its purposes." In fact, he said, the schema should go further. "Love is a good in itself. It makes its own demands and has its own laws...Let us be clear. Otherwise the fear of conjugal love that has so long paralyzed our theology will persist. We must affirm that the intimate union of the couple finds its legitimate end in itself, even when it is not directed toward procreation." (p. 59)
The subject of birth control, though, was specifically omitted from the schema and left in the hands of the Birth Control Commission. (p. 58)
Cardinal Suenens suggested that the Birth Control Commission and the Council commission that was creating the schema might work together. He suggested that too much weight had been given to the Biblical phrase "Increase and multiply" with not enough given to "And they shall be two in one flesh". He is quoted as saying "We have made progress since...St. Augustine. Let us have done with Manichean pessimism." (p. 59-60)
Patriarch of Antioch Maximos IV Saigh told the Council:
"Among the anguishing and sorrowful problems which agitate the human masses today, there emerges the problem of birth regulation, a problem most urgent since it is the bottom of the grave crisis of the Catholic conscience. There is here a conflict between the official doctrine of the Church and the contrary practice of the vast majority of Catholic families. The authority of the Church is once more questioned on a large scale. The faithful are reduced to loving outside the law of the Church, far from the sacraments, in constant anguish."(p. 60)
Therein lies the heart of dissent. Impose an impossible constraint, make the sin mortal, and confession fades to the background of Catholic thought, as we have seen that it has done. Force a majority of Catholic couples to reject Catholic teaching on one subject, and soon the conscience reforms into an openness to rejection of teaching on many other subjects. One can only cope with a double bind for so long without changing thinking to accommodate it.
Cardinal Bernard Alfrink offered:
"An honest doubt is rising among many married people and also scientists and some theologians regarding the arguments used to prove that the only efficacious moral and Christian solution to...conflicts in married life...is complete or periodic continence...Only if there is real certainty regarding the knowledge of the true content of divine law can and must the Church bind or free the consciences of her faithful."(pp 60-61)
McClory writes that a "thunderous applause" followed.
Cardinal Ottaviani, head of the Holy Office, voiced a contrary view:
"I am not pleased with the statement...that married couples can determine the number of the children they are to have. This is unheard of, from previous centuries up to our own times. The priest who speaks to you is the eleventh of twelve children, whose father was a laborer in a bakery--a laborer, not the owner of a bakery, a laborer. He never doubted Providence, never thought about limiting his family, even though there were difficulties."
Rhythm and NFP, however, propose to do just that, and with the full blessing of the Church.
JEWISH SOCIAL JUSTICE PROGRAM
The first ever Jewish Social Justice Program has been developed not at a Jewish school, but at Jesuit run University of San Francisco. It replaces a program in Jewish studies that had been focused on religion according to an article at Jewish in St. Louis:
Erin-Kate Escobar, a political science major at the University of San Francisco, had never been interested in her school’s Judaic studies program.
“It was Judaism as religion,” she says.
But when classes resumed last month the old program, with its theological and historical emphasis, had morphed into The Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, a reconfigured minor aimed at teaching students what it means to be a Jewish social justice activist.
The program offers classes in Judaism, Jewish culture and thought, Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Christian relations, and Hebrew and Arabic, as well as two core courses dealing with Jewish ideas about social justice.
Escobar signed right up.
“When I think of Judaism, I think of social justice and tikkun olam,” says the 21-year-old senior, who was raised Jewish in Santa Cruz, Calif. “This is something I’m willing to put my name to.”
Jewish social justice has been a growth industry for at least a decade. The field is bursting with new organizations, from the Progressive Jewish Alliance in Los Angeles to Jewish Community Action in St. Paul, and established groups such as the American Jewish World Service that are directing more of their energies to hands-on social justice work.
Tikkun olam, of course, is repairing the world and rescuing the scattered sparks of God, a concept associated with the Lurianic Kabbalah.
According to the article:
Two of the four students who have enrolled for the new minor are Catholic...
One has to wonder about a Catholic student at a Catholic college enrolling in a Jewish Social Justice program, especially given that Jewish Social Justice includes the right to an abortion. That point of view is described in a review of the book RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION: A JEWISH CALL FOR JUSTICE, by Rabbi Or N. Rose, Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, and Margie Klein, editors, where the Jewish position on abortion is spelled out:
The book also gives Jews some ammunition against anti-choicers who use religion and morality to shut down arguments about abortion and stem cell research. Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff points out that “[d]uring the first forty days of gestation, the fetus, according to the Talmud, is ‘as if it were simply water,’ and from the forty-first day until birth it is ‘like the thigh of its mother.’” This means that, from a Jewish point of view, an embryo is not a human being; furthermore, even when the pregnancy is advanced, the fetus is still part of its mother’s body.
However, Dorff explains that late-term abortions are “generally prohibited” because the mother would be doing harm to her own body (just as if she tried to cut off a thigh). But if the thigh needs to be cut off - just as late-term abortions are virtually always necessary procedures, not flighty changes of mind - then she’s obligated to do what it takes to protect her health and wellbeing. (This may seem like a loophole, given the “generally prohibited” clause, but I think we can read it as an assertion that the woman is the best judge of what she and her body need.) Similarly, if embryonic stem cell research will save lives, then we’re obligated - indeed, commanded - to do whatever it takes to save those lives.
How are the Jesuits at USF handling this disconnect? Is it a slick way to introduce these forbidden topics to young Catholics? Given that the current enrollment in the program is half Jewish and half Catholic, I tend to think the answer is yes.
RABBIS FOR OBAMA
Try to imagine Priests for McCain. Would it be allowed to exist? Would separation of church and state become an immediate issue dragged into the courts?
There is a double standard in America. Candidates can and do campaign in Protestant churches--especially Black community churches--all the time. They even appear in the pulpit of those churches periodically. It's hardly a secret. Yet let a bishop campaign for a candidate, and an immediate flap arises. Catholics are not allowed to mention the name of candidates in church. Priests are not allowed to talk about them.
How then to explain Rabbis for Obama?
The organization is described at the JTA website:
More than 300 rabbis formed a group to support the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama.
"The support of rabbis nationwide is a testament to Barack Obama’s strong support in the Jewish Community, and demonstrates that he shares the values and principles so important to the American Jewish Community," said a statement released Wednesday about the group founded by Sam Gordon and Steven Bob, two rabbis from the Chicago area, the Illinois senator's base.
The rabbis attached to the release spans the Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Orthodox streams.
The website is located here
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
A JEW DEFENDS POPE PIUS XII
Defenders of Pius XII, whose alleged silence on the Holocaust is a source of tension between Jews and Catholics, met in Rome this week to project a more positive image of the wartime pope. While that’s perhaps not remarkable, the aegis under which they gathered certainly is – a foundation called “Pave the Way,” dedicated to interreligious understanding and led by an American Jew.
The organizer of the Sept. 15-17 conference at Rome’s Palazzo Salviati, which included a number of Jews both as speakers and attendees, is New York businessman and philanthropist Gary Krupp. While making his living in the medical supply business, Krupp became a benefactor of a hospital in southern Italy founded by the legendary Capuchin stigmatic Padre Pio, and is today one of just a handful of non-Catholics to belong to the papal Knights of St. Gregory.
Improbably, Krupp, who says he grew up “hating” Pius XII, has emerged as a passionate defender of the pontiff once famously excoriated as “Hitler’s Pope.”
“It’s our obligation to recognize somebody who saved more Jews than all the other world leaders and religious leaders combined,” Krupp said in an interview with NCR. “This man should be raised up as righteous among the nations, not demonized."
Krupp referred to the negative portrayal of Pius XII in some Jewish circles -- including a critical placard at Yad Vashem, the main Holocaust memorial in Israel -- as a shonda, the Hebrew word for "shame."
While Krupp represents a distinctly minority view within Judaism, he is not alone. Sir Martin Gilbert, the distinguished Jewish historian in England, has praised Pius XII’s efforts to save Jews, and American Rabbi David Dalin has proposed that Yad Vashem recognize Pius as “righteous among the nations.” Probably no one, however, has devoted more time and energy –including a considerable portion of his own financial resources – to the defense of Pius XII.
Krupp argued it’s in the best interests of Judaism and Israel to pursue better relations with the Catholic church.
“Today, we’re faced with people such as the president of Iran who want to see us wiped off the map,” Krupp said. “Don’t you think that 1.2 billion friends might be good to have?”
Read the rest...
ABORTION AND POLITICS
The Bishops are beginning to present a united front opposing abortion, and they are getting the attention of the Democratic Party:
When Barack Obama announced that he had chosen Joe Biden as his running mate, Catholic Democrats knew some kind of religious rumble was inevitable.
They had spent the 2004 campaign watching John Kerry pummeled by charges that he was not a good Catholic and by warnings that he could be denied communion because of his support for abortion rights. Already this year they had seen pro-choice Catholic Kathleen Sebelius knocked out of vice presidential contention after her archbishop imposed a "pastoral action" on her, demanding she no longer receive the Eucharist.
Sure enough, the day after Biden's selection the archbishop of Denver declared that the Catholic senator should "refrain from presenting himself for communion." Archbishop Charles Chaput was one of the handful of Catholic leaders who had targeted Kerry in 2004, but he had become a marginalized in the bishops conference — losing key leadership elections — in part because of his extreme views about denying communion to politicians. His warning to Biden stood alone. Even the conservative Catholic League's Bill Donahue, who rarely hesitates to fire off press releases condemning Catholic Democrats, was unusually silent about Biden.
Then the Bishops stepped in. On Wednesday, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops publically called out Biden for comments he made about abortion on NBCs Meet the Press. Even Kerry, whose support for abortion rights is much stronger than Biden's and who was running at the top of the ticket, never generated attention from more than a handful of the most extreme bishops. The involvement of the bishops conference is a clear signal that the communion wars are not over. And it has Catholics Democrats worriedly asking themselves: Can one of their own ever again win national office?
Bishops standing together are a whole different voice from bishops standing alone!
The day after the Church of England issued an “apology” for having “misunderstood” the work of Charles Darwin, the Vatican has announced that it will organise a debate on the thorny question of Christian belief and the theory of evolution.
Two Cambridge lecturers, the archaeologist Lord Renfrew, and the paleontologist Simon Conway Morris. will join an international line-up of scientists, theologians, philosophers debating faith and evolution at a Vatican-sponsored event in Rome. The five-day encounter, entitled Biological Evolution, Facts and Theories. A critical appraisal 150 after "The Origin of Species" has been timetabled to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of the Species, Charles Darwin's seminal work on the theory of evolution. Forty-eight speakers will speak at the conference, which begins on March 3rd 2009.
The organisers said today that the Roman Catholic Church had never condemned either evolution or Charles Darwin. Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said that evolution was not “a priori incompatible with the teachings of the Catholic Church, with the message of the Bible”. He added that On the Origin of the Species had never featured on the “index”, a list of books once banned by the Roman Catholic Church as it was considered that their contents could endanger the morals of believers.
Read the rest...
If the Church adopts evolution, will it cause a rift between Catholicism and Evangelicalism?
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - Chapter 6
This chapter discusses the second and third meetings in 1964 of the commission.
Since the Birth Control Commission was not Pope Paul's idea, he could have simply let it lapse after its first, inconclusive meeting. But there is evidence he sincerely wanted its guidance....(p. 47)
The Pope approved a second session for the Commission for April 1964, with seven new members added to the original six, among them Redemptorist Bernard Haring.
Haring, then fifty-one, perhaps the best known Catholic moral theologian in the world, was invited personally to join the Commission by Paul himself when Haring preached a retreat for the Pope and top Curia officials in early 1964. His liberal tendencies were no secret... (pp. 47-48)
[Haring] shared his own growing concerns and ideas in a wide-ranging presentation. To say the "end of intercourse" is procreation (the union of sperm and egg) when most of the time such a union is physiologically impossible, declared Haring, seems to be an illogical position....it is not important that each and "every marital act be procreative but that the marriage in its totality should be." Haring took issue with theologians who claim that couples who commit a single contraceptive act sin mortally, while those who use natural family planning selfishly and have no children or very few do not sin--or do so only venially. That mentality, said Haring is "simply absurd." He emphasized that the virtual disappearance of arranged marriages in the developed, industrial world had altered the nature of the institution, pushing the importance of mutual, sustained love into the foreground.
In any event, said Haring, he could not see how the use of the pill could be considered intrinsically evil and thus always and everywhere forbidden regardless of circumstances.
Jesuit Fuichs took issue with Haring....After all, he noted, the essence of marital consent is the mutual "exchange by man and woman of their rights to sexual activities apt for procreation."....Haring's comments about the critical importance of love were affirmed by others in the group, so much so that several Commission members felt the old distinction between primary and secondary ends of marriage should be scrapped. A vigorous though restrained exchange followed concerning what is natural, and therefore inviolable, and what isn't. Famine and disease are natural, someone pointed out, yet no one questions the validity of scientific intervention to stem the consequences. The question wasn't asked but seemed to be implied: Why does the marriage act merit such extraordinary immunity from interference even when the gravest reasons for interference seem to be present? (p. 49)
British Jesuit Thomas D. Roberts, the retired archbishop of Bombay, India, declared in an interview in the Times of London that he could find no rational argument to prove that contraception is wrong. He threatened to argue his case during the next session of the Vatican Council....
In an expansion of his thesis, Roberts said, "On the grounds of reason alone, one can conceive of many cases in which a husband and wife might, after having examined their consciences, decide that contraception was the only means for preserving the health of one or the other spouse, or for preserving the marriage itself. If that is so, then with the most spiritual of motives such a husband and wife might be convinced that contraception was necessary for the growth of holiness which is the aim of the sacrament of matrimony."
If his was an erroneous position, Roberts challenged Church officials to provide rational arguments to refute it. The Church has always claimed that the intrinsic evil of contraception was evident from reason and was not a matter of divine revelation; so, said Roberts in effect: prove the point or abandon it....
...at the end...[ of May] Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, the pro-prefect of the Holy Office, entered the fray. (p. 40-51)
McClory states that he believes the turning point came at the June 1964 meeting when Belgian theologian Pierre de Locht moved beyond the strictures of relevant encyclicals and traditional theology.
He suggested that in order to move forward, the old terminology about the ends of marriage and acts "apt for procreation" and the demands of natural law had to go in favor of new terms and new understanding. The newcomer Lambruschini protested that new terminology would cause confusion among the faithful. Economist de Wilmars interjected that terminology is not the real problem but the ideas behind the terminology.(p. 53-54)
Someone then asked de Locht, "Aren't you really raising questions of fundamental theology? Are we supposed to be raising such questions?"
"Yes," said de Locht, "why not?"
The discussion came to a dead stop. Said Dr. Marshall later, "It seemed like we were seeing the real task for the first time. I believe that moment was a turning point."...
After three days though, all was still in a state of flux, and the Pope's questions remained unanswered. De Riedmatten...concentrated on the pill and put two questions to a vote, the first votes since the Commission was formed: Is the pill morally acceptable for contraceptive use? Nine said no and five said they were unsure...Six suggested that [Pope Paul] say nothing whatsoever on birth control at this point.
The question arose, "How much are we supposed to sacrifice to protect the integrity of the act?" (p. 55)
Some have speculated that the Pope had decided by this time that contraception was indeed intrinsically evil--pill or no pill--and in his own mind the book on the subject was closed. If that was the case, why did he place such [sic] much hope (and pressure) on the Birth Control Commission and why in the months ahead would he expand the group, more than tripling it in size so that laypeople would constitute the majority? Perhaps he genuinely believed the Holy Spirit would provide wisdom through this unique assembly. On the other hand, the ongoing existence of the Commission--his personal and very private Commission--would justify keeping the volatile issue of birth control out of the unpredictable hands of the bishops during the very public proceedings of the Vatican Council--which was scheduled to take up the subject at its next session in four months.(p. 55-56)
It was at about this point in the book that I began reflecting on the fact that Randy Engle makes a case that Pope Paul VI was a homosexual. If she is correct, a homosexual man (who arguably might not have been originally eligible for ordination in the first place) was holding to himself the right to determine the morality of actions he not only didn't engage in, but actions he had no inclination to engage in. It takes a leap of faith to conclude that such a man would make a correct decision.
There is a story coming out of Russia about a satanic ritual slaughter of four teens. It was in an obscure news source last week. Today it's on World Net Daily and the story gives names:
Eight suspects have been detained by police in Russia for the alleged satanic ritual killing – and cooking – of four teens, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
Police in the Yaroslavl region northeast of Moscow told the newspaper the victims – three girls and one boy – were stabbed 666 times each, dismembered and cooked on a bonfire in the satanic ritual. Satanists link the number 666 with Satan.
Police identified the four victims as Anya Gorokhova, Olga Pukhova, Varya Kuzmina and Andrei Sorokin. The four disappeared from their homes in June and their bodies were found in August. Police now are revealing some of the results of their investigation.
Yesterday I was speaking with a friend who works in a public library. She wanted to talk about Oprah and the weird stuff she is promoting. She said "At work we can always tell what Oprah is talking about by what people are asking for. They come in and ask for a particular topic and I ask them if that's what Oprah had on the program today. They confirm that it was." It bothered her quite a lot. She doesn't understand what Oprah is pushing. She has no knowledge of the occult.
She was disturbed because the people coming in for books on witchcraft look like ordinary women our age who dress like we do. They're not weird. If people knew what the libraries are using their tax dollars to buy, they'd never vote for another levy she speculated. The library has lots of weird stuff she told me.
Monday, September 15, 2008
THE BIRTH CONTROL COMMISSION
TURNING POINT by Robert McClory - Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 4 describes the mood in the Church at the beginning of the 20th century, noting that
Church was seen as essentially a vertical structure with the truth coming down from above: from God to the Pope, from the Pope to the bishops, bishops to pastors, and pastors to laity.(p. 28)
That changed with the development of Catholic Action under the leadership of Canon Joseph Cardijn and his "see, judge, act" methodology. The Crowleys were instrumental in that movement. Parents of four natural children and fourteen foster children, the Crowleys founded the worldwide Christian Family Movement for which they were awarded a papal medal:
...the Crowleys and their four children attended the first convention of the Latin American branch of CFM, with delegates from most South American countries and Cuba. By then suspicion about the Cardijin method had been resolved: CFM was almost universally regarded as a loyal, orthodox arm of the institutional Church--a model of "lay participation in the apostolic mission of the hierarchy." In October 1957 Pope Pius XII awarded Pat and Patty Crowley thePro Ecclesia and Pontifice medal, a kind of ecclesiastical distinguished service cross, during the World Congress of the Faith in Rome.
What Church officials may not have realized was that CFM and its cousins, YCW and YCS, were training great numbers [of] Catholics, especially young Catholics, to critically scrutinize the institutions of society, including the Church. It was teaching them as members of the One Body of Christ to observe, judge, and act--to value and trust their own experiences and insights on everything relevant to their lives. The Church as conceived by Pius X was fading into the past, perhaps never to return. (p. 37)
"See, Judge, Act" methodology, of course, is closely tied to the Sillon in France, and is still active today. Roots of this organization can be found in the Gallican Church of occultism, proving once again that ideas have consequences.
In chapter 5 McClory introduces Belgian Leo Joseph Suenens, a man raised to cardinal by Pope John XXIII:
The person most responsible for the creation of the Birth Control Commission was Leo Joseph Suenens, the archbishop of Malines-Brussels, Belgium. An extremely pastoral man, Suenens had long been concerned about the prohibition against "unnatural birth control,"...and the distress it created among Catholics of child-bearing age. In 1956 Suenens wrote a book...in which he strove mightily to reconcile the Church position with common sense, natural law, theory, and the experience of the people in the pews....(p. 38-39)
However, when he began examining some of the subtleties of the prohibition, he became troubled and unsure. For example, priests were supposed to explain that wives whose husbands insisted on coitus interruptus would not sin themselves if they remained "passive" during intercourse. Suenens said wives found it meaningless and "repugnant" to define something as passivity that necessarily involves a certain amount of activity. The difficulty of communicating to ordinary, good-willed Catholics such moral nuances raised in Suenens's mind the thought that there might be something wrong, not with Belgian parishioners, but with the traditional doctrine itself.
In the late 1950s, Suenens launched a series of yearly informal conferences at the University of Louvain...Among those participating from the beginning was Dr. John Marshall...
Marshall, a married man and father, was
working with the London-based Catholic Marriage Advisory Council, which was attempting to scientifically validate the effectiveness of rhythm.(p. 39)
He was involved with the testing of the temperature method, and claimed this method "was not the Vatican roulette its critics claimed, nor was it as good as its enthusiasts would have wanted it to be." (p. 39)
Swiss Dominican priest Henri de Riedmatten was also a participant in the conferences. He is said to have been "a kind of roving ambassador and observer on behalf of the Holy See in a variety of venues including the United Nations headquarters in Geneva." (p. 39)
According to McClory it was Suenens who approached Pope John and persuaded him to form the Birth Control Commission which met for the first time four months after Pope John died.
The Commission was aware that there might be a possibility that the pill was an abortifacient at this time, but the facts were not conclusive. The commission saw as their mission helping the Pope "interpret teachings, basically accepted by most Catholics, to the diverse nations and cultures that would be gathered at the United Nations. At least, that was the impression they were getting from de Riedmatten." (p. 43)
At this point theologian Edward Schillebeeckx waded into the picture with his "ladder of values in marriage with love at the top and biology at the bottom". (p. 44) He even went so far as to state that if for solid reasons a couple should not have more children, "they might be 'morally obligated' to use the pill in preference to rhythm, simply because the pill is the 'more efficacious' and effective means of preventing pregnancy." (p. 44)
These passages demonstrate once again that the seeds of dissent were first sown over birth control.
KILL THE MOUSE
Culture clashes are invariably interesting. Can you kill a cartoon?
Mickey Mouse must die for the good of Islam, a leading Saudi cleric said last month in a broadcast on al-Majd TV.
On Aug 27 Sheikh Muhammad Al-Munajid told viewers of a religious affairs programme that mice were agents of Satan and that Sharia law called for the extermination of all mice: from the common house mouse (Mus musculus) to cartoon mouse (Mickey Mouse).
A former diplomat attached to the Islamic Affairs Department at the Saudi embassy Washington, al-Munajid appears regularly on Saudi television to discuss religious and ethical topics.
I have to agree with him on one issue:
On Aug 10 he denounced the Beijing Olympics as the “bikini Olympics,”
I didn't watch much of the Olympics, but I did watch women's volleyball. The scarcity of clothing on the competitors bothered me as well. What was the Olympic committee selling, sports or sex?
The remains of Ike arrived in Northeast Ohio yesterday afternoon with 70 mph wind gusts. This morning a million people are without power. Many of the technicians who would restore that power are in Texas helping out. Schools are closed all over the area. Four people have died, struck by falling limbs. One of them was a child. So far there has been less rain than expected.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
FROM THE EMAILBOX
Spirit & Life®
"The words I spoke to you are spirit and life." (Jn 6:63)
Human Life International e-Newsletter
Volume 03, Number 4 | Thursday, September 11, 2008
The Real War on Terror
The events of September 11th, 2001 will remain engraved upon the hearts and minds of every decent person living today and throughout many future generations. The terrorist attacks of that fateful day seven years ago showed the world the real face of radical Islam and unleashed a chain reaction of conflicts that have shaken the very foundations of what we, as a nation, hold dear. Those events have forced us to decide how much we are willing to do to stop such a radical injustice from spreading like a cancer throughout the world. May the whole world commemorate this day as a witness to the reality of evil and the resolve of good people to put a stop to it.
While we hold sacred the memory of the nearly 3,000 victims of the terror in the Twin Towers, their deaths are also a symbolic reminder of the real terrorism that has occurred every day of every year, uninterruptedly, for the past 36 years in a country that calls itself "the land of the free and the home of the brave." This form of terrorism on America's own soil kills more than 3,000 babies every single day! There has not been any official war declared on the terrorism of abortion. It is virtually ignored in public discourse and political campaigning, and even when it is dealt with, it is only talked about as something "controversial" and never as a substantive issue or one that needs to be addressed in all its dimensions.
The real story of international terror and extremism is not the story of Islam. It is the story of an industry that makes Islamic terrorists look like a bunch of Boy Scouts. It is not a localized war or one related simply to disputes between countries or conflicting political systems. It is an ideological war, a conflict between fundamental notions of good and evil, decency and depravity. In this respect, there is a direct correlation between the murderous terrorism whose bloody victims are shown on the evening news and the silent butchering of millions of babies, the images of whose suffering little bodies will never be considered fit for public viewing. The babies' murderers are just as unscrupulous as the ones who behead their victims on the internet. In addition to that, this war is indeed spreading like a cancer around the world. The recent legalization of abortion in Mexico is an indication that the traditional ramparts against this kind of ideological killing are being battered down in the few places where they still remain standing.
So out of reverence for the victims of the Twin Tower disaster, we must memorialize their unborn companions in suffering who are virtually forgotten by the world and the press in the aftermath of 911. We will never forget them. We do no service to those who fell in the Twin Towers by glossing over their silent associates who are also full victims of modern terror, although hidden from view. We must not let the memory of these children fade, ever. And while we are remembering them, let us remind ourselves of our obligations to them which are even more real and immediate because these children are totally innocent and completely defenseless.
Unlike the declared war on terror, the war against abortion is not a war for trained military men. It is a war for every decent human being to engage in. We ourselves must vigorously fight the real war on terror or no future remains in store for our nation, our families, or possibly even our very souls.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,
President, Human Life International