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Just reminding erryone of my current location #rio #papafrancis #skyline #beautiful

Posted by on 7-22-13

El Jueves salgo para Puerto Rico y estare participando del JMJ en PR. Un Evento unido al JMJ de Brasil. Seran dias de mucha gracia, poder y misericordia. Contamos con sus oraciones! Para mas info porfavor visiten www.jmj2013pr.com #jmj #jmj2013pr #brasil #puertorico #unasolaiglesia #jovenes #catholic #catolico #papafrancis

Posted by on 7-22-13

“Não tenho ouro nem prata.. Vim aqui transmitir o maior presente que recebi nessa vida: Jesus Cristo” – Papa Francisco, no Palácio Guanabara, na sua chegada no Rio de Janeiro

Posted by on 7-22-13

Nada mejor que coger cosas de los hoteles y encontrartelas un tiempo mas tarde #recuerdoson #abril2013 #antequera #campeonatoespañaporescuelas #catalunya #buenequipo #genialrelevo #granada #bocadecaballo #dientesdeleon #mojopicon #bananas #pasajeros #titofrancis #papafrancis #yayofrancis #quierovolver

Posted by on 7-22-13

El papa Francisco acaba de recitar: “Necesitamos santos sin velo, sin sotana. Necesitamos santos de jeans y zapatillas. Necesitamos santos que vayan al cine, escuchen musica y paseen con sus amigos. Necesitamos santos que coloquen a Dios en primer lugar y que sobresalgan en la Universidad. Necesitamos santos que busquen tiempo cada dia para rezar y que sepan enamorar en la pureza y castidad, o que consagren su castidad. Necesitamos santos modernos, santos del siglo XXI con una espiritualidad insertada en nuestro tiempo. Necesitamos santos comprometidos con los pobres y los necesarios cambios sociales. Necesitamos santos que vivan en el mundo, se santifiquen en el mundo y que no tengan miedo de vivir en el mundo. Necesitamos santos que tomen Coca Cola y coman hot-dogs, que sean internautas, que escuchen iPod. Necesitamos santos que amen la Eucaristia y que no tengan vergüenza de tomar una cerveza o comer pizza el fin de semana con los amigos. Necesitamos santos a los que les guste el cine, el teatro, la musica, la danza, el deporte. Necesitamos santos sociables, abiertos, normales, amigos, alegres, compañeros. Necesitamos santos que esten en el mundo y que sepan saborear las cosas puras y buenas del mundo, pero sin ser mundanos”. Amen!!!!!!! (Esta parte la dije yo) :) #santidadenjeans #santidad #PapaFrancis #Iglesia #yes #holiness

Posted by on 7-21-13

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Untying the Pope Francis “knot”. Some analysis...

Posted on Mar 17, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

“Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions.”

This is a quote from this good piece at Crisis by my friend of many years Msgr. Hans Feichtinger, who was until recently a long-time official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic virtues. Benedict XVI was the universal professor, who carefully thought about the most pressing intellectual issues facing the world today. Pope Francis? In true Jesuit fashion, he may be best characterized as the world’s spiritual director.

Consider the talk Francis gave to the cardinals and the staff of his curia with the long list of spiritual maladies that he wants them to address (December 22, 2014). [He basically beat the tar out of them.] Or look at some buzz lines from recent homilies at Santa Marta: the Church is a mother, not an entrepreneur; rigidity is the sign of a weak heart; theology is done on your knees; keep the temple clean—and do not scandalize the faithful by posting liturgical price lists; do not be afraid of surprises and of conversion. Think about how the pope repeatedly has likened modern forms of Christianity to ancient heresies. [Who can forget the unbeatable “self-referential Promethean Neo-Pelagian” line?] His homilies are like wake-up calls, at times hyperbolic, [at time?  often!] often provocative, reminders about the basic message of the gospel. Not to mention the pope’s unprotected speech in interviews, both in the air and on the ground. This is how the pope preaches his theology and spirituality.

Many of Francis’ pronouncements do not have the binding authority of obligatory teaching; i.e., they are not “magisterium” in the proper sense of the term—people are free to listen and pay attention or not, free to let themselves be challenged, motivated, or convinced. The Holy Father’s language touches the hearts of many, perhaps more than their minds—and presumably this is precisely the pope’s intention. He does not offer refined analysis, carefully weighing all aspects in order to arrive at affirmations that are beyond criticism. What he wants to do is surprise, challenge, provoke, or reassure, console, and support. [This is so.  Alas, what happens when he says things like “Who am I to judge?” is that swaths of people, mislead by the MSM and catholic sources, get the notion that Francis thinks homosexual acts are are not to be judged as intrinsically evil.]

To appreciate the words of Pope Francis, it helps to remember the essential distinction between doctrine and theology. No theology can claim for itself the authority of the magisterium. Conversely, the magisterium cannot act as a substitute for theology. The distinction between doctrine and theology, however, is not clear to many who represent the pope’s pronouncements to the public. This is a problem, whether we and the pope like it or not, mostly because we are not used to making this distinction when reading papal pronouncements. [Good point.]

John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard composing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now Francis tells us: the Catechism is not enough. This is certainly true, but people make it sound as if he intends to abolish the Catechism altogether. All Christians, and the Church as a whole, are called to proclaim the faith truthfully and to live it authentically. We all know that there is never a perfect harmony between the precepts of the faith and how the Church and its members act; the solution to this problem is not to formulate a compromise [did you see that “not”?] —repentance and true reform has the aim of bringing our practice closer to the demands of the faith. This is where Francis puts his focus.

All popes need to be allowed the space to exercise their ministry as they see fit. But even more importantly, Catholics need to appreciate the enduring and radical difference between Christ and his deputy: The pope is here in order to ensure that no one and nothing else takes the place of Christ until the Lord himself returns. The pope, more than anyone else, is bound by the example of Christ, and needs to rely on his special assistance (what we call “grace of state”); he is the first of “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith” (Missal, Roman Canon).

At the same time, [… this is where things get tricky…] the pope represents the Church before the world and before God. Pope Francis does not seem inclined to cover up disagreements within the Church. In many respects, he wants to be more in the Church than over it. When Pope Benedict declared his resignation, he did so acknowledging that he no longer had the strength to be pope. [Quaeritur…] Did he have to step down because we failed to help him carry the heavy burden of the Petrine ministry? And are we now ready to step up and support Pope Francis in the way and to the degree he needs it? We need a pope in order to be Catholic. But conversely, he needs us. An Italian journalist once put it very succinctly: “Dobbiamo amare il Papa—we must love the Pope.” According to the Bible, this love must be “without dissimulation,” literally “unhypocritical” (see the Greek of Rom 12:9). It is this spiritual authenticity that Francis wants us to acquire.

Pope Francis has made his choice about how he would like to exercise his office. Catholics respect his choice by taking his pronouncements and gestures for what they are, which includes not treating them as expressions of the primacy of teaching when they are not. Francis does not want to—and in fact he cannot—challenge the teaching authority of his predecessors; rather, he wants to help us “consider how to provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). [NB:] Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions. The pope is part of the living tradition of the Church, which is a tradition in the making. The Supreme Pontiff is affected by our inconsistencies, confusions, errors and doctrinal defects, in a double sense: his ministry cannot overlook these issues, and he is himself touched by them. To believe that all popes must be perfect and saints, theologically, is donatism, [Donatism] and historically, madness.

So what does it mean to look at Pope Francis SJ as the universal spiritual director? First of all, it does not mean doubting whether he really is the pope. [Some, amazingly, do.  And they have played games of intellectual Twister.] Surprisingly, perhaps, it is Benedict XVI who can help us find an answer. Already as cardinal, and even more explicitly as pope, he underlined the difference between Church doctrine and his own theology and exegesis: “Everyone is free to contradict me.” [cf his comments about his books Jesus of Nazareth.] Compared to a theological teacher and his student, a spiritual director generally has even more authority over the individual who entrusts himself to his care; at the same time, it remains even more up to the directee what to do with his director’s advice or whether indeed to seek it in the first place. In many cases, this is how Pope Francis seems to understand his own approach. Whether this is the best way of “being pope” remains to be seen, but it is certainly not without its merits. In any case, it comes with a price and has limitations. Indeed, we can be sure the pope himself is aware of these limitations, and we can trust that as a good spiritual director he also lets himself be challenged by others, resisting his own tendency to moralize and spiritualize issues that are in fact doctrinal. [Time will tell.]

Saint Paul reports the famous episode when he had to point out to Saint Peter how some of Peter’s practices were incoherent (Gal 2:11-21)—not that Paul would not have suffered from similar inconsistencies (Acts 16:3). The way Pope Francis acts seems to invite a similar kind of criticism, at least from people who can offer it sincerely and seriously. He is an approachable pope, thus Catholics need to drop the fear of approaching him, even if they approach with something other than praise for his actions. He speaks in his own way to the faithful, very different from his predecessors. Thus, lay Catholics, bishops and clergy will need to change how they relate to his words and gestures and distinguish more accurately with what kind of authority he acts and speaks. If Francis does not want to be as august as some of his predecessors, we should stop trying to force him.  [I sure hope to see a shift in his liturgical style and also in decorum in matters of audiences, etc.  But, who am I to judge?]

As we learn from Benedict XVI, we are often free to contradict the pope, because there is no such thing as an obligatory theology or spirituality, even if it is the pope’s theology or spirituality. We even may not be impressed by his personal style, preferring to wait and see whether his disarmament of papal ceremonies is the best way. Or in Francis’ language: Do not “divinize your leaders!” What is binding on the conscience of all Catholics, clergy and popes included, is the faith, its doctrine and tradition. Authenticity and truth are not the same thing, but certainly they are related, and the Church needs both in order to be truthful and credible: “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor 4:1-2). This pope is different, and therefore papists can and need to be different, too.

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Untying the Pope Francis “knot”. Some analysis...

Posted on Mar 17, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

“Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions.”

This is a quote from this good piece at Crisis by my friend of many years Msgr. Hans Feichtinger, who was until recently a long-time official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Demystifying the Pope Francis Enigma

Every modern pope has had his own style. Paul VI was personally like a global student chaplain, intellectually sensitive and pained by the fact that so many were falling away from the Church. John Paul II was the international pastor, constantly on the move, proclaiming the truths of the faith and exhorting us to heroic virtues. Benedict XVI was the universal professor, who carefully thought about the most pressing intellectual issues facing the world today. Pope Francis? In true Jesuit fashion, he may be best characterized as the world’s spiritual director.

Consider the talk Francis gave to the cardinals and the staff of his curia with the long list of spiritual maladies that he wants them to address (December 22, 2014). [He basically beat the tar out of them.] Or look at some buzz lines from recent homilies at Santa Marta: the Church is a mother, not an entrepreneur; rigidity is the sign of a weak heart; theology is done on your knees; keep the temple clean—and do not scandalize the faithful by posting liturgical price lists; do not be afraid of surprises and of conversion. Think about how the pope repeatedly has likened modern forms of Christianity to ancient heresies. [Who can forget the unbeatable “self-referential Promethean Neo-Pelagian” line?] His homilies are like wake-up calls, at times hyperbolic, [at time?  often!] often provocative, reminders about the basic message of the gospel. Not to mention the pope’s unprotected speech in interviews, both in the air and on the ground. This is how the pope preaches his theology and spirituality.

Many of Francis’ pronouncements do not have the binding authority of obligatory teaching; i.e., they are not “magisterium” in the proper sense of the term—people are free to listen and pay attention or not, free to let themselves be challenged, motivated, or convinced. The Holy Father’s language touches the hearts of many, perhaps more than their minds—and presumably this is precisely the pope’s intention. He does not offer refined analysis, carefully weighing all aspects in order to arrive at affirmations that are beyond criticism. What he wants to do is surprise, challenge, provoke, or reassure, console, and support. [This is so.  Alas, what happens when he says things like “Who am I to judge?” is that swaths of people, mislead by the MSM and catholic sources, get the notion that Francis thinks homosexual acts are are not to be judged as intrinsically evil.]

To appreciate the words of Pope Francis, it helps to remember the essential distinction between doctrine and theology. No theology can claim for itself the authority of the magisterium. Conversely, the magisterium cannot act as a substitute for theology. The distinction between doctrine and theology, however, is not clear to many who represent the pope’s pronouncements to the public. This is a problem, whether we and the pope like it or not, mostly because we are not used to making this distinction when reading papal pronouncements. [Good point.]

John Paul II and Benedict XVI worked hard composing the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Now Francis tells us: the Catechism is not enough. This is certainly true, but people make it sound as if he intends to abolish the Catechism altogether. All Christians, and the Church as a whole, are called to proclaim the faith truthfully and to live it authentically. We all know that there is never a perfect harmony between the precepts of the faith and how the Church and its members act; the solution to this problem is not to formulate a compromise [did you see that “not”?] —repentance and true reform has the aim of bringing our practice closer to the demands of the faith. This is where Francis puts his focus.

All popes need to be allowed the space to exercise their ministry as they see fit. But even more importantly, Catholics need to appreciate the enduring and radical difference between Christ and his deputy: The pope is here in order to ensure that no one and nothing else takes the place of Christ until the Lord himself returns. The pope, more than anyone else, is bound by the example of Christ, and needs to rely on his special assistance (what we call “grace of state”); he is the first of “all those who, holding to the truth, hand on the catholic and apostolic faith” (Missal, Roman Canon).

At the same time, [… this is where things get tricky…] the pope represents the Church before the world and before God. Pope Francis does not seem inclined to cover up disagreements within the Church. In many respects, he wants to be more in the Church than over it. When Pope Benedict declared his resignation, he did so acknowledging that he no longer had the strength to be pope. [Quaeritur…] Did he have to step down because we failed to help him carry the heavy burden of the Petrine ministry? And are we now ready to step up and support Pope Francis in the way and to the degree he needs it? We need a pope in order to be Catholic. But conversely, he needs us. An Italian journalist once put it very succinctly: “Dobbiamo amare il Papa—we must love the Pope.” According to the Bible, this love must be “without dissimulation,” literally “unhypocritical” (see the Greek of Rom 12:9). It is this spiritual authenticity that Francis wants us to acquire.

Pope Francis has made his choice about how he would like to exercise his office. Catholics respect his choice by taking his pronouncements and gestures for what they are, which includes not treating them as expressions of the primacy of teaching when they are not. Francis does not want to—and in fact he cannot—challenge the teaching authority of his predecessors; rather, he wants to help us “consider how to provoke one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24). [NB:] Looking at a short, partially improvised homily as if its words were the equivalent of an encyclical of Paul VI is simply ridiculous, and is an offense against the pope’s own intentions. The pope is part of the living tradition of the Church, which is a tradition in the making. The Supreme Pontiff is affected by our inconsistencies, confusions, errors and doctrinal defects, in a double sense: his ministry cannot overlook these issues, and he is himself touched by them. To believe that all popes must be perfect and saints, theologically, is donatism, [Donatism] and historically, madness.

So what does it mean to look at Pope Francis SJ as the universal spiritual director? First of all, it does not mean doubting whether he really is the pope. [Some, amazingly, do.  And they have played games of intellectual Twister.] Surprisingly, perhaps, it is Benedict XVI who can help us find an answer. Already as cardinal, and even more explicitly as pope, he underlined the difference between Church doctrine and his own theology and exegesis: “Everyone is free to contradict me.” [cf his comments about his books Jesus of Nazareth.] Compared to a theological teacher and his student, a spiritual director generally has even more authority over the individual who entrusts himself to his care; at the same time, it remains even more up to the directee what to do with his director’s advice or whether indeed to seek it in the first place. In many cases, this is how Pope Francis seems to understand his own approach. Whether this is the best way of “being pope” remains to be seen, but it is certainly not without its merits. In any case, it comes with a price and has limitations. Indeed, we can be sure the pope himself is aware of these limitations, and we can trust that as a good spiritual director he also lets himself be challenged by others, resisting his own tendency to moralize and spiritualize issues that are in fact doctrinal. [Time will tell.]

Saint Paul reports the famous episode when he had to point out to Saint Peter how some of Peter’s practices were incoherent (Gal 2:11-21)—not that Paul would not have suffered from similar inconsistencies (Acts 16:3). The way Pope Francis acts seems to invite a similar kind of criticism, at least from people who can offer it sincerely and seriously. He is an approachable pope, thus Catholics need to drop the fear of approaching him, even if they approach with something other than praise for his actions. He speaks in his own way to the faithful, very different from his predecessors. Thus, lay Catholics, bishops and clergy will need to change how they relate to his words and gestures and distinguish more accurately with what kind of authority he acts and speaks. If Francis does not want to be as august as some of his predecessors, we should stop trying to force him.  [I sure hope to see a shift in his liturgical style and also in decorum in matters of audiences, etc.  But, who am I to judge?]

As we learn from Benedict XVI, we are often free to contradict the pope, because there is no such thing as an obligatory theology or spirituality, even if it is the pope’s theology or spirituality. We even may not be impressed by his personal style, preferring to wait and see whether his disarmament of papal ceremonies is the best way. Or in Francis’ language: Do not “divinize your leaders!” What is binding on the conscience of all Catholics, clergy and popes included, is the faith, its doctrine and tradition. Authenticity and truth are not the same thing, but certainly they are related, and the Church needs both in order to be truthful and credible: “Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is of course required of stewards that they be found trustworthy” (1 Cor 4:1-2). This pope is different, and therefore papists can and need to be different, too.

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NRO: Pope Francis Enters His Third Year of Scoldin...

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

At NRO, Nicholas Frankovich, a deputy managing editor, has some sharp comments on Pope Francis as he begins the third year of his pontificate. You can sense the frustration in his commentary, along with his hope.

There is a lot to chew over in this piece.   Some people are going to hate this while others should avoid precipitous high fives.  THINK as you read.

Pope Francis Enters His Third Year of Scolding Introverts

He preaches mercy for everyone except them, when the Church needs them more than ever.

‘I want the Church to go out into the streets,” Pope Francis told a cheering crowd gathered for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, four months after he was elected pope. “¡Hágan lío!” he exhorted them, in the spirit of creative destruction: Make a mess! Take care, he added, not to become “closed in on” yourselves. [It is interesting that, by contrast, Benedict XVI all through his writings, before and after becoming Pope, explores the theme of “self-sufficiency”.  But he does it in an entirely different way.] On other occasions, he has urged priests to leave “the stale air of closed rooms” and has characterized traditional Catholics as “self-absorbed.” An extrovert, Francis attaches a positive moral value to extroversion — and, as if it followed by some logical necessity, a negative moral value to extroversion’s complement, introversion.

“Pope Francis has said that he does not want a church that is introverted,” Monsignor M. Francis Mannion, describing the pope’s “achievements,” explained bluntly last July in an article for the Catholic News Agency. Two weeks later in the Los Angeles Times, an admiring Amy Hubbard included in her list of lessons that we should take from Francis: “Do not be an introvert. That’s just putrid.”

“This is no century for introverts,” Kathleen Parker remarked on the occasion of Francis’s elevation to the papacy two years ago today. In our age, yes, “introversion — along with its cousins sensitivity, seriousness, and shyness — is now a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology,” as Susan Cain writes in Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. To “disappointment” and “pathology” we should add, if we follow Pope Francis on this question, “character flaw” and “moral failing.”

More grandly than any other figure on the world stage today, Francis, entering the third year of his pontificate, exemplifies what Cain calls “the Extrovert Ideal”:

We like to believe that we value individuality, but all too often we admire one type of individual — the kind who’s comfortable “putting himself out there.” . . . Talkative people, for example, are rated as smarter, better-looking, more interesting, and more desirable as friends. Velocity of speech counts as well as volume: we rank fast talkers as more competent and likable than slow ones. The same dynamics apply in groups, where research shows that the voluble are considered smarter than the reticent — even though there’s zero correlation between the gift of gab and good ideas.

In fairness to Pope Francis, we should remember that, though he is quick to chastise introverts, they have been quick to reciprocate. The primary reason that he disappoints many Catholics who delight in cultivating their interior life is not that he leans left in his politics and theology but that he’s shallow or at least presents himself as such. He has little apparent interest in the life of the mind. He lacks the patience to think slowly. Cain quotes a venture capitalist telling her, “I worry that there are people who are put in positions of authority because they’re good talkers, but they don’t have good ideas.” Bingo.

Francis tends to speak in platitudes, sometimes strung together rhetorically when they don’t cohere logically. Consider more closely his “Make a mess” speech at World Youth Day in 2013:

I want the Church to go out into the streets. I want us to defend ourselves against all worldliness, opposition to progress, from what is comfortable, from what is clericalism, from all that means being closed in on ourselves. Parishes, schools, institutions are made in order to go out. . . . If they do not do this, they become a non-governmental organization, and the Church must not be an NGO.

What a brain-bruising knot of contradictions: Go out into the streets — that is, the world — to defend yourself against worldliness. Church institutions must go out into the world! Many already do, such as Catholic Relief Services, arguably the Church’s premier NGO. If other Church institutions don’t do likewise, they’ll become NGOs. They must not become NGOs!

In the original Spanish, [NB] the key word in Francis’s phrase “what is comfortable” is “instalación,” derived from medieval Latin. A “stall” was a fixed place, and “installation” was, and remains, an ecclesiastical term for the assignment of a prelate to his place — of a bishop, for example, to his “cathedra,” or “chair.” A bishop should be stable, like a tree, rooted in the soil of his diocese. Episcopal “absenteeism” (a bishop’s failure to reside in the diocese where he has his chair) was once common, but the Church has condemned it since the Council of Trent in the 16th century. Francis himself has disparaged “airport bishops,” although in doing so he seems to contradict his message that the Church’s missionary (Latin: “sent out”) or apostolic (Greek: “sent out”) character is preeminent. [I wonder if a distinction must be made between the mission call of clerics and of lay people.]

The word “missionary,” of course, is now associated with colonialism and has fallen out of fashion. And “apostolic” sounds churchy and formal. In contemporary Catholicism, the new word for the Extrovert Ideal is “evangelical,” as in “the New Evangelization.” You know the drill: Leave the fortress and sally forth into town. Drop that sourpuss, Counter-Reformation stance contra mundum. Engage the world with a smile. Let’s dialogue.

That’s the music, from circa 1965, to which the lyrics of the New Evangelization have been set. The term originated during the pontificate of John Paul II, and Benedict XVI formally recognized the concept in 2010, when he created the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. Benedict charged it with “the specific task of promoting a renewed evangelization in countries where the first proclamation of the faith already resounded, and where Churches are present of ancient foundation, but which are going through a progressive secularization of society and a sort of ‘eclipse of the sense of God.’” It was a serious objective nobly articulated.

In the Francis era, sadly, the New Evangelization is sometimes made to sound like a program for shaming introverted Catholics into leaving their conversation with the Lord so they can go help in the kitchen. [And here is a serious concern – one of my most serious concerns, even fears…] Concern with liturgy, for example, the public prayer of the Church, is dismissed as “the Church . . . being obsessed with itself.”  [For the thousandth time, unless we have a revitalization of our sacred liturgical worship, no initiative we undertake in the Church will bear lasting fruits.  A revitalization of our worship is a good in itself and needs no further justification.  However, if we want any sort of New Evangelization to work, we had better find our knees again, and silence, and the transforming, unsettling encounter with mystery which is found only in sacred liturgy.]

Martha, Martha.

Remember, Mary chose “the better part” and “the one thing necessary.” Jesus’ teaching in Bethany stands in obvious creative tension, however, with his instruction to his disciples to go forth, teach all nations, and baptize them. All Christians are called to contribute to the Great Commission, but the nature of the contribution will vary from individual to individual, as the body of Christ has many members, each with a different function. “Are all apostles?” Saint Paul asks rhetorically (1 Cor. 12:29).

[… CUTTING A BIG CHUNK…]

In our drive to conform to the Extrovert Ideal, the spiritual fruits of their labor have become invisible to us, inaudible, unintelligible. Godspeed to Pope Francis in his mission to draw people to the Church — but not in his attempt to discourage those who are only laboring to keep the oil burning in the sanctuary lamp. [Good image, and situated well.  The sanctuary is the place we need to revitalize before we can hit the streets.] The flame is guttering.

I am going to turn on the moderation queue and let some of your comments pile up before releasing them.  That way you are engaging the material first, rather than reacting to each other first.

Also, you will want to read the whole piece before jumping in.

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Russ Douthat: three groups of Pope Francis’ crit...

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

The insightful Russ Douthat of, remarkably, Hell’s Bible (aka New York Times) has some comments about Pope Francis’ critics on the right.  This is worth your time.  It is long, so we’ll have just a taste here.  Keep in mind that he doesn’t go into Francis’ critics on the other end of the spectrum, and they are growing in number as their disatisfaction with him grows.

My usual black and red treatment:

Who Are Pope Francis’s Critics?

The latest cover of the new New Republic features Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig taking on conservative anxieties about Pope Francis’s possible “radicalism.” The essay isn’t just about the pope; it offers a larger critique of the way that conservatives, Catholic and otherwise, relate to and interpret the human/Western/Christian past. I have a few disagreements with this depiction, and a few critical generalizations I’d make about the liberal tendency in Catholic thinking and debate right now. But I’ll save those for another post; for now I think it would be helpful for the discussion of Catholicism in the Francis era to spend some time distinguishing between the different groups who have doubts, or flirt with having doubts, about this pontificate, because in Bruenig’s account they run together a bit and I think the distinctions are actually enormously important.

A preliminary point to make is that Francis’s genuinely strident critics — as opposed to skeptics or fretters or unsettled observers — are quite few in number. “The differences in opinion between Francis and the movement collectively known as the ‘American right’ appear especially numerous,” Bruenig writes, “and unusually bitter.” She has examples — I’m one of them — and they do add up to a current (or currents) of criticism, but not all of them/us are obviously “bitter,” the American right is a lot bigger than a few pundits and bloggers, and it’s worth noting that the divide she sees opening up is largely invisible in public polling. In the latest Pew survey, for instance, the pope is just as popular (and he is very popular) among Catholics who vote Republican as among Catholics who vote Democratic, and he has slightly higher net favorables among self-described “conservative” Catholics than among self-described “moderates” and “liberals.” To the extent that the anxieties Bruenig identifies are visible in polling at all, they may show up in the somewhat elevated number of conservative Catholics who say their views of Francis are “mostly favorable” rather than “very favorable,” or the pope’s slightly higher net-unfavorables among Catholic Republicans — but that “higher” means a net of 10 percent, compared to 7 percent for Catholic Democrats, which is hardly the stuff of deep, bitter divides. (Pew’s old polling on Benedict XVI didn’t break things down by party or ideology, but I’d lay odds that his unfavorable numbers among Catholics who self-identify as liberal were much higher than than Francis’s currently are among any definition of the American Catholic right.)

So what we’re talking about here, what Bruenig is analyzing, is for now more a tendency within the intelligentsia (and the world of comment threads, but perhaps I repeat myself) than a large-scale phenomenon. And its various elements don’t all fit easily under a single label or description. Instead, I would divide them into three groups:

1. Traditionalists. These are Catholics defined by their preference/zeal for the Tridentine Rite Mass and their rejection of (or at least doubts about) various reforms of the Second Vatican Council. Some attend mainstream parishes that offer the mass in Latin, others are affiliated with orders specifically organized around the old rite, others are connected to parishes run by the (arguably; it’s a long argument) schismatic [sic] Society of Saint Pius X. [There is loose terminology here.  For example, SSPX can’t have parishes, since parishes must erected by proper authority (which the SSPX lacks).] There’s lots of variation within traditionalist ranks (my friend Michael Brendan Dougherty, cited by Bruenig, is a “trad” of a different sort than, say, this fellow), [Michael Voris] but the important things to emphasize are first, that their numbers (in the American context and otherwise) are quite small; second, that their concerns are not usually the same as those of the typical John Paul II-admiring conservative Catholic (traditionalists were often not admirers of the Polish pope); and third, that their skepticism of Pope Francis was probably inevitable and pretty clearly mutual. [Douthat seems to be painting this group as the fringe of the intelligensia.]

For instance, Bruenig notes that Rorate Caeli, a traditionalist site, greeted Jorge Bergoglio’s election by describing him as “a sworn enemy of the traditional Mass.” But what she doesn’t mention is that as Francis, he has often vindicated those fears: He has demoted the traditional mass’s most prominent champion within the Vatican, cracked down on a prominent traditionalist order, and frequently singled out traditionalist tendencies and practices for criticism in his remarks. Traditionalism has, it’s fair to say, a paranoid streak and then some, but even paranoids have enemies, and since the Tridentine mass was essentially suppressed in much of the church for a generation and more, Francis’s moves have not exactly been calculated to reassure Catholics of this persuasion about their place within the church.

This doesn’t mean traditionalists are “right” and the pope is “wrong.” (If you want to understand where Francis might be coming from, consider that the SSPX seminary in Argentina during his years as archbishop of Buenos Aires was run by this charmer.) [He is referring to former SSPX bishop Williamson.  This has been my thesis.] But it means that the conflict here has very specific contours, and the stakes involved are distinctive and not particularly influenced by, say, Francis’s social and economic vision (which some traditionalists find entirely congenial; see this Rorate Caeli post for an example). Which makes it very different from my second case study … [While this gives Rorate far too much ink, it does situate that site well in this set of three groups.]

2. Catholics who are economic conservatives or libertarians. […]

[Remember that the catholic Left such as the Fishwrap has been trying to paint anyone who doesn’t want redistribution of wealth or who doesn’t embrace the zero-sum game view, or who sees free markets as a way to raise more people out of poverty more effectively and more quickly as a “liberatarian”, which for them is a cuss word.  They’ve created a straw-man, chimeric “libertarian”.  Again, a true laissez-faire libertarian is a pretty rare bird.]

3. Doctrinal conservatives. These are conservative American Catholics whose Francis-era anxieties center around the issues raised during last fall’s synod on the family, and particularly around Cardinal Walter Kasper’s proposal to admit Catholics in second marriages (which the church does not recognize as marriages at all) to communion — an issue I may have written aboutfrom time to time.

[…]

That picture — coming around to the point of this rambling taxonomy — is simply this. A future in which Francis’s “radicalism” (a term that would require yet another post to unpack, so I won’t) is defined by his approach to the social gospel, globalization and the poor is one in which the tension with traditionalists will remain intense but not high-profile, in which the tension with free-marketeers and libertarians will percolate in interesting ways, and in which conservative doubts about this pontificate will remain a particularly American phenomenon and a mostly elite-level tendency overall. [Again, with the small in number theme.  However, I think this group is growing in size and awareness, as are the other two, above.] And it’s a future, at this point, that I would welcome, since I’d be very happy to spend more time arguing with Bruenig about the church’s historical relationship to the welfare state and less time arguing about German cardinals and divorce.

But a future in which this pope’s “radicalism” extends to moves that look like an implicit change of doctrine around communion and/or marriage … in which it’s not just Hannity but the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that’s in conflict with the throne of Peter … well, in that future the economic issues would become a sideshow, and the pope’s existing conflict with traditionalists would become the template for a doctrinal conflict that’s wider, global, and essentially unknowable in its results. And it’s that future, for reasons that I believe are more Christian than “conservative”, that I’d very much prefer the Catholic faith be spared.

Me too.

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JUBILEE YEAR ANNOUNCED – OF MERCY!...

Posted on Mar 13, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

On the 2nd anniversary of his election to the See of Peter, Pope Francis announced a Jubilee Year “of Mercy”.

The Jubilee will begin with the opening of the Holy Door of St. Peter’s Basilica on the 8 December 2015, Feast of the Immaculate Conception and 50th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council. The Jubilee will conclude on 20 November 2016, Christ the King (in the Novus Ordo calendar).

He will promulgate the Bull proclaiming the Jubilee on the Sunday after Easter, “Divine Mercy”.

The last major Jubilee was announced by St. John Paul II for the Year 2000. Generally Jubilees come every 25 years or so, but there have been special Jubilees, such as that of 1983.

Francis made the announcement in the context of a penance service with individual confessions.

Pope Francis has spoken often and with great warmth about the need for the Sacrament of Penance. He gave a magnificent testimony to how important making a good confession is when, last year, again in the context of a penance service, he made his own confession at one of the confessionals in St. Peter’s Basilica.

The theme of “mercy” has been strong in this pontificate.

However, we must always remember that mercy cannot be separated from the truth. We cannot set aside the truth of Catholic doctrine in the name of mercy, because that would falsify mercy. Similarly, we cannot approach God seeking mercy without first discerning the truth about ourselves, our state of soul, our sins, the harm we have done to ourselves, to neighbors and to God’s love. Furthermore, mercy is not the enemy of justice. God’s justice we will receive whether we want it or not. God cannot be other than just. However, mercy is always there for the asking, provided that we do so with honesty and humility.

A Year of Mercy is an inspired idea. It reminds me strongly of something that Benedict XVI might have implemented. That said, there is no question that the theme of mercy has resonated constantly during the Pope Francis’ pontificate, even in his choice of motto, Miserando atque eligendo.

francis confession

 

UPDATE:

Yes, the Holy Father made his own confession also this evening.  This time, however, he was not in his own surplice and stole, just his house cassock.

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Lent: A Season for Sacrifice...

Posted on Mar 12, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest blogger today is Kyle Kramer, the executive director of the Passionist Earth and Spirit Center in Louisville, Kentucky..

Years ago, as Lent approached, I asked a trusted spiritual counselor what he was going to give up. He gave me a sly grin and said, “I’m giving up giving things up for Lent.”

He was no spiritual sloth. Looking back, I imagine he was probably trying to correct my overzealous understanding of Lent as a time to flex my spiritual muscles and hone my ascetic self-denial to a razor-sharp edge. For (too) many years I had a no pain, no gain, “if it hurts, it’s holy” understanding of spirituality. For me, faith was pretty much the same thing as moral willpower. So when Lent came around, I was eager for the chance to gird up my loins, deprive myself, and grit my teeth for 40 days.

With this kind of mindset, I suppose it was no coincidence that I was also a raging environmentalist. After all, if I liked the deprivations of Lent so much, why not deny myself creature comforts year-round, in the name of saving the Earth? Middle age, raising children, and some spiritual maturing have helped me understand that such a gung-ho approach to Lent and environmentalism was as much ego as it was youthful, high-minded idealism. But I don’t think realizing that means I should simply “give up giving things up.”

We follow a savior who, out of love, gave his very life for others. And we live on a planet that cannot sustain seven billion people if everyone consumes like the average American; many of us will have to live more simply so others can simply live.

But how do we give things up in a way that’s spiritually fruitful, without being dour and resentful, and not inflating our own ego with a martyr complex? I can think of three ways.

First, become self-aware. Take a hard look at your own motivations—not judging them, but just paying careful attention to why you do what you do. Second, practice gratitude. The more grateful you are for the blessings in your life, the easier it is to make sacrifices.

Finally, cultivate compassion. Acting out of empathy and concern for others is the most life-giving motivation of all. This kind of love is what moved Jesus to heal the sick and to carry his cross to Golgotha. And it’s what Lenten sacrifice is really all about.

This blog is from Kyle Kramer’s “At Home on Earth” column in St. Anthony Messenger. To learn more or two subscribe, click here.

*****

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Laetare. Mid-Lent Announcement....

Posted on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Rev. Br Jean Marie, F.SS.R.

Official announcement 
of 
the Priestly Ordination
of
 Brother Jean Marie, F.SS.R.
The Congregation of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer
announces with great joy the ordination of
Reverend Brother Jean Marie, F.SS.R.
to the Sacred Priesthood
and share this joy and this announcement
with Brother’s parents
Mr. and Mrs. Darryl Lewis and his sister Roanna.
We cordially invite you to attend this historic ceremony,
which will be celebrated according to the more ancient use by
the Most Reverend Basil Meeking, D.D.,
Bishop Emeritus of Christchurch,
on
Saturday, 11th April 2015 at 7.00 p.m.
in
St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral
Manchester Street, Christchurch, New Zealand.
You are also invited to be present the following morning,
the Octave Day of Easter,
called Quasimodo and the Feast of Divine Mercy,
when the newly ordained priest,
Reverend Father Jean Marie, F.SS.R.,
will celebrate his First Holy Mass on
Sunday, 12th April 2015, at 10.00 a.m. in
The Oratory,
Our Mother of Perpetual Succour Monastery,
141 Rutland Street, St Albans, 8052, Christchurch.
R.S.V.P.
7th April, 2015
papay[dot]christchurch [at] the-sons.org
Mid-Lent and Feast of St Gregory the Great
12 March, 2105
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Pope Francis to assassins: Make sure it doesn’t ...

Posted on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

From the Daily Mail:

Pope Francis says he accepts he may be assassinated – but asks God to make sure it doesn’t hurt because he is ‘a real wimp’

Pope Francis has said he has accepted that he may be assassinated- but has asked God to make sure it doesn’t hurt too much as he is ‘a real wimp’.
Francis said that if fanatics want to kill him, it is ‘God’s will’.
He said: ‘Life is in God’s hands. I have said to the Lord, “You take care of me. But if it is your will that I die or something happens to me, I ask you only one favour: that it doesn’t hurt. Because I am a real wimp when it comes to physical pain.”

The pope made the light-hearted comments in an interview with Buenos Aires favela tabloid La Carcova News in which inhabitants of the shantytown Villa La Carcova collectively came up with the questions.

[…]

This is a good time to remind you of what I have posted in the past.

We don’t know the time and place of our death.

Please develop the good practice of examining your conscience every day and going to confession regularly.  Please teach your children to examine their consciences and take them to confession, teaching them what to do and why.

Fathers, you will be called to account for the souls entrusted to you.  Preach about sin, about the Four Last Things, about the Sacrament of Penance.

A subitanea et improvisa morte… From a sudden and unprovided death, spare us O Lord.”

A sudden death can be a blessing.

A sudden and unprovided death – unprovided in the sense of having no recourse to the sacraments when you are not in the state of grace – is a horrifying prospect.

Make plans for, provide for, the needs of both body and soul for yourselves and those in your charge.

Finally… GO TO CONFESSION!

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Jesus’ Experience of Temptation...

Posted on Mar 11, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest blogger today is Jim Van Vurst, OFM, co-author of the free e-newsletter A Friar’s E-spirations. To subscribe to this FREE e-newsletter, click here.

One of the most significant aspects of the season of Lent is to remind us of how Jesus entered into the human experience. We face that fact when the Passion and death of Jesus are revealed to us during Holy Week.

We know from Church teaching that Jesus was both divine and human in nature. That’s referred to as the “hypostatic union,” which we cannot fully comprehend. For many people, it seemed beneath God’s dignity to become human. Further, how could God suffer and die on the cross? But that is exactly what happened.

The answer is that even though Jesus was God (and human) he did not hang on to those powers and qualities that made him God. He gave them up in his human life to be just like us in all things except sin. This is, of course, a great mystery. Even when we believe it in our heads and hearts, our emotions tend to make Jesus’ life different from ours. In reality, Jesus walked this earth as a human being, and the Gospels are crystal clear in telling of Jesus’ human experiences.

When Scripture tells us that Jesus was tempted, that is exactly what happened. The first occasion is what we heard in the Gospel of Mark (1:12-13). Mark’s account is very brief. Matthew and Luke go into detail for each of the three temptations, and Luke adds a very significant detail: “When the devil finished every temptation, he departed from him for a little while.”

The implication is that Satan was not finished with Jesus. Imagine how Satan would whisper in Jesus’ ear: “Oh, Jesus, what a failure you have been. How disappointed your Father must be in you. Despite all your preaching, look what you have now—nothing!” The expression “kicking a man when he is down” doesn’t even describe what Satan was doing to Jesus in those moments.

When we say that Jesus was just like us in all things except sin, it is worth our while to reflect on his experience and try to deepen our understanding of Jesus’ suffering for all of humankind. 

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Journey Toward God’s Love...

Posted on Mar 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Our guest today is Amy Ekeh, a freelance writer from Milford, Connecticut, where she writes her blog (amyekeh.com) and keeps busy with her four children.

A Blatant Display of God’s Love St. Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth that what he wanted was to “know nothing while was with you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). From Paul’s perspective, the crucified Christ is the spiritual lens through which our Christian lives come into focus. Knowing “nothing . . . except Jesus Christ, and him crucified” is a proclamation that at the very heart of our faith and our lives looms a cross.

The good news is that this cross has an attracting power, a transforming power, a pull so strong that Paul is single-minded in his desire to be crucified with Christ and crucified to the world (Gal 2:20; 6:14). If we join St. Paul in this single-minded determination, if the crucified Christ fills our hearts and minds, then we open ourselves to the dynamism of Lent, and we prepare ourselves to be changed by this beautiful old friend.

Every ritual, every fast, every small sacrifice we make leads us to the cross.

This is how we discover that Lent is nothing other than an experience of God’s love, a journey toward God’s love—because Lent is ultimately a study of the cross, a preparation for the cross, a meditation on the cross. When we look upon Jesus Christ and him crucified, when we look upon the cross, we see the kind of love he has for us—sacrificial love, merciful love, unconditional love, divine love, real love. It is on the cross that God’s love for us is blatantly displayed. The cross is not a tragic display meant to elicit guilty feelings. It is a brazen show of the burning love of God. This is how God makes a new creation, and the new creation is you.

This blog is taken from the article “Welcome Lent” by Amy Ekeh in St. Anthony Messenger. To subscribe to this award-winning publication, click here.

*****

Image courtesy of Candus Camera/Shutterstock.

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Another liberal turns on Pope Francis...

Posted on Mar 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

A couple days ago (I’ve been busy) Breitbart had a summary of how Hell’s Bible (aka New York Times – “Women See Themselves as Left Out Amid Talk of Change in Catholic Church”) is cooling in regard to the Left’s Pope Francis’ Frenzy.

I’ve been saying all along that, eventually, they would start to turn on him. I also said that it would be women (feminists) who turn on him. Then the women will start putting pressure on weak men to turn on him.

Why will feminists turn on him? Women’s ordination. That’s the (un)holy grail of their agenda. That’s also where they will gain some support only among a few men.

Have a look on your own.

Breitbart:

[…]

Reading through the initial paragraphs of Povoledo’s [Hell’s Bible] article, one cannot help feeling that there is an underlying issue that is waiting to bubble forth.

And there, finally, in paragraph ten, her real point emerges: women’s ordination.

After Francis “opened the door to discussion of women’s status to growing hopes,” he crushed them by not caving on the question of women priests. And so “any debate on the role of women,” writes Povoledo, “is curtailed by one irremovable premise: There is no place for women priests. Pope Francis has rejected such a change outright.”

“This,” said Tina Beattie, [Of the Bitter Pill, aka RU486, aka The Tablet] a professor of Catholic studies at the University of Roehampton in London, “is the most sensitive issue in the Vatican, [well… probably not…] more difficult than so many others because it is fundamental to so many others.”

“We need to make him understand that this is a make-or-break issue for the church,” she added. [No, it really isn’t.  It can’t be, otherwise Christ would have provided for women priests.  He didn’t.  Women can’t be ordained.] “It would be an unbearable blow if he left papacy as he found it with regards to women.” [Unbearable!  Oh the drama!  And Francis certain can influence “the papacy”, just as Pope’s have in the past (e.g., Leo I, Urban VIII, Pius IX, John Paul II) but he can’t change teaching.  Note the fuzzy thinking and confusion of institution and doctrine.]

No matter what else he accomplishes, one concludes, if Francis does not change Church teaching regarding the priesthood, he will leave the papacy “as he found it with regards to women.”  [But he can’t change teaching.]

If only the Roman Catholic Church would become Episcopalian, The New York Times would welcome it as its own. If only the Church would begin to mirror pop culture and keep “pace with the social transformations of secular society,” rather than challenging it, the Left would bestow its unconditional seal of approval.

Povoledo’s arguments, unfortunately, echo the unimaginative refrains of a stagnant subculture that can only envision women’s authentic progress in terms of traditional male roles and categories.  [YES! Again as I have been saying all along, the irony in the feminist desire is that they desire to be approved by men.]

A more creative thinker, the feminist intellectual Lucetta Scaraffia, co-editor of a monthly insert on women and the church distributed by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, exhibits a deeper understanding of both Pope Francis and the real situation of women in the Church.

According to Scaraffia, Pope Francis “doesn’t want a simply accommodation of the Church to the modern world.” What he hopes to spark is “a profound internal reflection, a ‘conversion’ that goes back to the origins and takes up the uninterrupted thread of the extraordinary role that Jesus gave to women.”

“Christianity,” says Scaraffia, “must reappropriate its specificity: that of having established for the first time in history an equality between men and women.”

[NB…] Six months after Pope Francis’ election, in September 2013, the same Elisabetta Povoledo in the same New York Times waxed rhapsodic over this “surprising” pontiff. “Francis,” she wrote then, “is challenging the status quo of the Roman Catholic Church so determinedly” that some now think the Pope may be preparing the ground “for a more fundamental shift in the direction of the church.”

Alas, this was not to happen, and thus disenchantment was bound to follow. [As the night the day!]

Any pope, no matter how “liberal” he may seem, is essentially conservative, since his job description is to re-proclaim a message that he received and embraced, and of which he is not the master, but the servant. He is not commissioned to invent his own religion, or to announce his own “good news,” but rather the Gospel of Jesus Christ of which he is an unworthy custodian.

The pope is, after all, Catholic.

Keep watching for this in the MSM.

I’ll turn on the moderation queue and let a bunch of comments pile up before releasing them.  That’s way you can react first to the issue rather than each other.  Time for that later.

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Another liberal turns on Pope Francis...

Posted on Mar 10, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

A couple days ago (I’ve been busy) Breitbart had a summary of how Hell’s Bible (aka New York Times – “Women See Themselves as Left Out Amid Talk of Change in Catholic Church”) is cooling in regard to the Left’s Pope Francis’ Frenzy.

I’ve been saying all along that, eventually, they would start to turn on him. I also said that it would be women (feminists) who turn on him. Then the women will start putting pressure on weak men to turn on him.

Why will feminists turn on him? Women’s ordination. That’s the (un)holy grail of their agenda. That’s also where they will gain some support only among a few men.

Have a look on your own.

Breitbart:

[…]

Reading through the initial paragraphs of Povoledo’s [Hell’s Bible] article, one cannot help feeling that there is an underlying issue that is waiting to bubble forth.

And there, finally, in paragraph ten, her real point emerges: women’s ordination.

After Francis “opened the door to discussion of women’s status to growing hopes,” he crushed them by not caving on the question of women priests. And so “any debate on the role of women,” writes Povoledo, “is curtailed by one irremovable premise: There is no place for women priests. Pope Francis has rejected such a change outright.”

“This,” said Tina Beattie, [Of the Bitter Pill, aka RU486, aka The Tablet] a professor of Catholic studies at the University of Roehampton in London, “is the most sensitive issue in the Vatican, [well… probably not…] more difficult than so many others because it is fundamental to so many others.”

“We need to make him understand that this is a make-or-break issue for the church,” she added. [No, it really isn’t.  It can’t be, otherwise Christ would have provided for women priests.  He didn’t.  Women can’t be ordained.] “It would be an unbearable blow if he left papacy as he found it with regards to women.” [Unbearable!  Oh the drama!  And Francis certain can influence “the papacy”, just as Pope’s have in the past (e.g., Leo I, Urban VIII, Pius IX, John Paul II) but he can’t change teaching.  Note the fuzzy thinking and confusion of institution and doctrine.]

No matter what else he accomplishes, one concludes, if Francis does not change Church teaching regarding the priesthood, he will leave the papacy “as he found it with regards to women.”  [But he can’t change teaching.]

If only the Roman Catholic Church would become Episcopalian, The New York Times would welcome it as its own. If only the Church would begin to mirror pop culture and keep “pace with the social transformations of secular society,” rather than challenging it, the Left would bestow its unconditional seal of approval.

Povoledo’s arguments, unfortunately, echo the unimaginative refrains of a stagnant subculture that can only envision women’s authentic progress in terms of traditional male roles and categories.  [YES! Again as I have been saying all along, the irony in the feminist desire is that they desire to be approved by men.]

A more creative thinker, the feminist intellectual Lucetta Scaraffia, co-editor of a monthly insert on women and the church distributed by the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, exhibits a deeper understanding of both Pope Francis and the real situation of women in the Church.

According to Scaraffia, Pope Francis “doesn’t want a simply accommodation of the Church to the modern world.” What he hopes to spark is “a profound internal reflection, a ‘conversion’ that goes back to the origins and takes up the uninterrupted thread of the extraordinary role that Jesus gave to women.”

“Christianity,” says Scaraffia, “must reappropriate its specificity: that of having established for the first time in history an equality between men and women.”

[NB…] Six months after Pope Francis’ election, in September 2013, the same Elisabetta Povoledo in the same New York Times waxed rhapsodic over this “surprising” pontiff. “Francis,” she wrote then, “is challenging the status quo of the Roman Catholic Church so determinedly” that some now think the Pope may be preparing the ground “for a more fundamental shift in the direction of the church.”

Alas, this was not to happen, and thus disenchantment was bound to follow. [As the night the day!]

Any pope, no matter how “liberal” he may seem, is essentially conservative, since his job description is to re-proclaim a message that he received and embraced, and of which he is not the master, but the servant. He is not commissioned to invent his own religion, or to announce his own “good news,” but rather the Gospel of Jesus Christ of which he is an unworthy custodian.

The pope is, after all, Catholic.

Keep watching for this in the MSM.

I’ll turn on the moderation queue and let a bunch of comments pile up before releasing them.  That’s way you can react first to the issue rather than each other.  Time for that later.

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Faith Is Not a Popularity Contest...

Posted on Mar 6, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

A study released yesterday by the Pew Research Center reports that Pope Francis’s popularity is steadily rising in the U.S., achieving numbers not seen since a saint held the chair of Peter. The current pontiff has an approval rating of 90% (compared to 16% for Congress—the people we actually voted for) among U.S. Catholics. The number reaches to 95% among Catholics who attend Mass weekly and still achieves a respectable 86% among those who attend Mass, well, weakly.

While having “pope” as your job title gives you a head start among Catholics, getting real support from the pews is not a given in our era. But Francis is doing his best to make it popular to be Catholic. It’s cool to follow a pope who gets Twitter. It’s easy to admire the reforming streak of a man who is doing his best to clean house at the Vatican Bank. It’s hard for anyone to resist the charisma of this surprising man who showers the homeless with sleeping bags (with the papal insignia, no less) and, well, showers.

If you’re a fan who can’t get enough of this guy, check out what he has to say about the ideals of Saint Francis. This new book, published in cooperation with the Vatican, features some of Pope Francis’s best homilies, addresses, and Tweets, in gorgeously packaged, delightfully digestible pieces. If you already have your copy, get one for a friend. There’s a 90% chance they’ll love it.

Photo courtesy of giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

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Faith Is Not a Popularity Contest...

Posted on Mar 6, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

A study released yesterday by the Pew Research Center reports that Pope Francis’s popularity is steadily rising in the U.S., achieving numbers not seen since a saint held the chair of Peter. The current pontiff has an approval rating of 90% (compared to 16% for Congress—the people we actually voted for) among U.S. Catholics. The number reaches to 95% among Catholics who attend Mass weekly and still achieves a respectable 86% among those who attend Mass, well, weakly.

While having “pope” as your job title gives you a head start among Catholics, getting real support from the pews is not a given in our era. But Francis is doing his best to make it popular to be Catholic. It’s cool to follow a pope who gets Twitter. It’s easy to admire the reforming streak of a man who is doing his best to clean house at the Vatican Bank. It’s hard for anyone to resist the charisma of this surprising man who showers the homeless with sleeping bags (with the papal insignia, no less) and, well, showers.

If you’re a fan who can’t get enough of this guy, check out what he has to say about the ideals of Saint Francis. This new book, published in cooperation with the Vatican, features some of Pope Francis’s best homilies, addresses, and Tweets, in gorgeously packaged, delightfully digestible pieces. If you already have your copy, get one for a friend. There’s a 90% chance they’ll love it.

Photo courtesy of giulio napolitano / Shutterstock.com

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Lent and a Reader’s Inspiration...

Posted on Mar 5, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

Lent has begun, and both for those becoming Christians and those already baptized, our conversion as Christians prompts us to help shape a just world.

Catholics traditionally pray, fast, and give alms during Lent. Those three “pillars” of the Lenten season can take many forms. But true to the “baptismal focus” of Lent—that is, walking in solidarity with those preparing for Baptism, our Lenten penances must be outer-directed. Our own conversion helps prepare us to serve others.

In the Gospel for the First Sunday in Lent, Jesus rejects the devil’s temptations to make his life and ministry all about himself. Rather, Jesus will make of his life a sacrifice of selfless love. That example should guide our Lenten sacrifices as well.

We received the following inspiring email from a reader named Bryan:
“One day I was on the road and decided to stop at a hotel for the night. Next morning, being already well on my way, I lamented the fact that I had misplaced a rosary and my phone charger. There was another rosary but only one charger. Having looked in vain that night I went to sleep wondering where to get a new one.

Next morning I awoke to find my bag open, which I remember closing, and the phone charger placed neatly inside. At first I was utterly amazed and wondered how this could be or if I’d lost my mind. But, really, I think it demonstrated that we’re not alone in this world though it may appear otherwise sometimes.”

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Photo courtesy of ingimage

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"And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and people, this journey of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood.

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will."

-Papa Francis quote

He does not know you, yet he prays for you.
He will most likely never meet you, yet he loves you.

This is your chance to show your love, for as the Bible teaches, "Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven."