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Posts Tagged ‘catholic church’

I am sitting here, listening to yet another pounding rain, watching election returns.

I have been praying for weeks that God would please not give us what we deserve, which would be another four years of Obama, the continued acceleration of the destruction of the unborn, disastrous overseas policy, lies, cozying up to Comrade Putin (who seems increasingly oblivious to the end of the Cold War), the ruin of the economy, the spreading persecution and villification of anyone who dares say homosexual behavior is wrong, the vast expansion of the GIMME GIMME GIMME welfare/entitlement state, etc., etc.

On Facebook, where my husband maintains a very limited personal account, a number of acquaintances have come up with such gems as, “The Republicans’ support is all stupid, white men; doesn’t that explain a lot?”  Wow… let me sit and ponder that one.  With all those degrees, that’s really all the logic she could muster?  My opinion of advanced degrees and certain “prestigious” universities continues to plummet as I meet women with lots of framed paper on their walls and not one ounce of sense, but an overarching fear of being called our for it, masked by an obnoxiously loud and strident proclamation of how smart they are for not being like one of those stupid pro-lifers and/or conservatives.  A complaint about the Republican platform would be fine, but this is just middle school name calling.

Of course, Facebook has also hosted its share of general rants about how Romney should ask women what they think about contraception.  Well, I’m a woman, last I checked (I know, I know: “She’s not a woman!  She’s a Republican!” as the line went about Palin), and I think contraception is about the stupidest thing we’ve done with technology.  We managed to strangle our future generations while wrecking havoc in the stability of our own (divorce rates follow the availability of contraception, and it doesn’t go down, like contraceptives’ proponents say), all in one fell swoop.  How’s that for scientific efficiency?  And then, even though Hugh Hefner embraced contraceptives as the greatest gift to lust-ridden, irresponsible misogynist pigs everywhere… somehow, women still were convinced that they had to have contraceptives for their own good.

America, the Jesuit magazine for “thinking” (which is code for “dissenting”) Catholics, and the Huffington Post (almost equally useless in their ability to identify or promulgate sound Catholic doctrine) apparently both ran articles explaining to Catholics why Obama (since all Democrats are better for the economy, and abortion is really just about financial inability to raise a child) is really the more pro-life choice than Romney (who hates women and wouldn’t really have anything to do with the legality of abortion, you know).  Scarily, some people actually reposted these articles as a “something to make you think” kind of thing.  Yes, it makes me think we’re pretty stupid to accept that “financial hardship” is the real reason for the abortion, and not actually a symptom of the disappearing father, embarassed or coercive parents, unfeeling school administrators, etc. who all made it painfully clear to the pregnant mother that they would abandon her, penniless and homeless, unless she got the abortion and stopped making demands on them.  And yeah, it makes me think… that catechesis in the Catholic Church in this country has absolutely and almost universally stunk, quite literally, to high heaven for decades, so that we’ve turned out a bunch of religiously illiterate adults who can’t perceive the moral difference between government handouts being somewhat decreased and government-funded murder.

And then we promoted some of those adults to the head of CCD programs and parishes, where they spout about the unfairness of working conditions in Nike factories in Asia and the evil, hard-hearted, poor-hating jerks who argued against Obamacare… but NEVER utter one word about the millions dying every year around the globe and around the corner because of the evil of abortion.

Of course, these people were shocked- absolutely flabergasted!- to find out that those crazy, extremist pro-lifers were right about Obamacare being doomed to bring with it mandatory abortions and contraception for everyone, religious objections be damned.  (I’m not holding my breath for an apology.  Apparently, being liberal means never having to admit you were wrong about the actual long-term consequences of your ill-considered idealistic actions.  At least the bishops finally realized the danger they were in and sued the government over the HHS mandate.)

This morning, I spent two and a half hours in line to vote down here in southeastern Virginia.  Our polling place made the local news, and, sadly, we weren’t the worst of it.  (Four years ago, the line was outside for the first hour, and the wait took more like 3.5 hours.)  Two extra computers for checking voter registration finally showed up after we’d been in line for two hours and had only finally made it to the far end of the school cafeteria from the voting booths.  (Yes, I had all four of my kids with me.  They were remarkably good, something I was very thankful for.)

The polls tell us that many people only made up their minds about who they’d vote for in the last few weeks.

It would seem more people have solid opinions about who they root for on “Jersey Shore” or in the “Twilight” series than in politics.

It sure looks like a huge chunk of the U.S. population thinks the government owes them and/or others, not that they have the responsibility to work to provide for themselves, their families, and the poor in their own communities.  (Yes, Vice President Biden, I’m talking to you.  Crap, I give away more money in a month than you did in a year as a senator, and I know my household makes a heck of a lot less than yours.  No, Catholic social teaching does NOT support the idea that voting to give away other people’s tax money to programs for the poor is the same as tithing, the CCHD notwithstanding.)

It would also seem that most women, especially “educated” women, are dumb enough to believe that they have to vote Democratic, or else they’ll be seen as stupid.  Or not worthy of their “lady parts”.  Or that they’ll be chained to the kitchen sink, barefoot, and forced to have babies until they die, while being deprived of proper reading material, like the HuffPo.

I’d like to think we were smarter than this, that a clear explanation of things would open eyes, that we would not fall to what John Adams said could ruin our country: lack of morals and the realization that we could vote ourselves money out of the public treasury.  The election should be obvious and not close at all, if we still remembered those things that made our nation great (faith, the rule of law equally for all, civic involvement, personal as well as group responsibility and charity, etc.).  No matter who wins tonight, this election is too close to be excusable.  Everything in our history says we should be smarter than this.

Thank God, I am solidly aware that my true citizenship is not here, that my deepest loyalties are not to the United States of America, and that all man-made kingdoms will fall and fade, otherwise, I would despair.  (Besides, I learned more than what my pitiful CCD program bothered to teach me, so I also know that despair is expressly forbidden; it is a sin against God’s goodness.  I have thanked God and blessed the Archdiocese for the Military Services repeatedly over the years for those marvelous, holy chaplains assigned to the Naval Academy.)

But I am losing heart in the power of words, logic, and even personal example to change most peoples’ minds.

Kinda a problem for someone trying to keep up a blog.

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Just so we’re clear, the Catholic Church is right: contraception is wrong.  It does not reduce abortions; contraception increases abortions.  It does not improve marriages by removing the risk of unwanted children, it destroys marriages.  No, contraception isn’t really contraception all the time: when the Pill fails to prevent ovulation, it prevents implantation of the days-old child by reducing the uterine lining, around 25% of the time.  Which means that women on the Pill, if we assume around a 1/3 chance of pregnancy (conception and successful implantation, the advice given in NFP that “if you haven’t gotten pregnant in three cycles, something might be wrong”), then women on the Pill, especially younger women, generally more fertile and sexually active, may be averaging an abortion a year.  And when the Obama administration says “contraceptive services”, they include post-sex contraceptives, which are large doses of the usual chemicals, which will either prevent ovulation or abort a just-conceived child.

But the issue isn’t really contraception.

I suppose I should start farther back, with Obamacare itself.  The pro-life movement was up in arms, crying that any government takeover of health care would end in taxpayer-funded abortions and contraception.  “Oh, what a bunch of worrywarts!” scoffed most of the bishops and many members of Congress.  In some cases, anti-Obamacare advocates were maligned as “anti-poor”.  We were assured, “Mandatory abortion or contraceptive coverage?  That’ll never happen!”

Well, your Eminences, welcome to the “never” your encouragement of Obamacare has created.

While I’m thrilled to hear that every single Catholic bishop in the U.S., along with a good many Protestant leaders, including people who suppported Obama, have issued statements against the contraception mandate, I’m a bit underwhelmed.  Abortion and contraception have been rampant in this country for decades, and the bishops and priests have largely failed to fight them.  It isn’t a moral triumph to finally acknowledge that you ignored people being killed or maimed after they’re dead.  Better late than never, but better on time.

But back to the mandate.  Contrary to our dying local paper, the problem isn’t that there wasn’t an exemption for houses of worship.  Actual churches would be exempt from the mandate, since they employ and serve almost exclusively people of their own faith.  The problem was that absolutely nobody and nothing else would be exempt.

Our local paper condescendingly allowed that if churches insisted on not paying for contraception for the women who worked in the parish office, fine.  However, the editorial went on, when the churches do “secular work” like taking care of migrants, adoption placements, hospitals, schools, etc., then they weren’t really churches anymore, and, thus, had no right to ask that their religious beliefs be respected.  They have to play by the secular laws when they do secular functions, “reasoned” the editors.  (Which takes us back to the Obama administration’s preference for “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion”.  They aren’t the same thing.)

EWTN is suing the federal government, since they don’t qualify for an exemption, but they are adamantly opposed to contraception in general, and paying for it in particular.  Since the Catholic TV network is not directly controlled by an order or a diocese (there were power struggles with the USCCB trying to claim it, so it went private some time ago, although many members of the board are clergy), it wouldn’t even qualify for consideration of an exemption.  So, while they air programs explaining how contraception destroys marriages and is frequently abortifacient (and therefore murder), they would be required to participate in (i.e. pay for) an insurance program that offers free contraception to EWTN’s employees.  In Catholic moral discussions, we describe this as levels of “cooperation with sin”.  Just because you didn’t choose the evil, if you facilitated or encouraged it, you are still somewhat culpable.

I would note that EWTN has hit the nail on the head, when many bishops have missed a bit.  The problem isn’t that Catholic Charities or your local Catholic school (or any of the Protestant organizations or ministries similarly tied to denominations that do not approve of contraception) shouldn’t be forced to pay for something they don’t believe is moral.  Most bishops are clear that those types of organizations should not be forced to violate their moral principles in order to avoid massive, coercive government fines.

The problem is deeper.  I (and you, by the way), as a normal citizen, would be required to buy health insurance from a company that is mandated to provide certain services that I believe to be deeply immoral.  Today, it’s contraception and the early chemical abortifacients.  What comes tomorrow?

If Obamacare and the latest mandate stand, Catholic social services will shut down across the country.  Schools, hospitals, etc.  The Obama administration already yanked a federal grant for human trafficking assistance, because the USCCB (US Council of Catholic Bishops) office wouldn’t provide abortions to the rape and prostitution victims it rescued (never mind their excellent record of service spanning decades).  A number of local Catholic Charities adoption agencies (and, presumably, a number of other, smaller agencies with similar reservations but less publicity) have closed because they refused to call gay “marriage” a legitimate family arrangement and place children for adoption in such families.  The religious agencies are forced to shut down as unprofessional or anti-regulation, and the government increasingly gets to hand out the goodies of social services.

The alternate allegiance to the church that helped you is shifted to the all-powerful government.

All of this goes to emphasize the brilliance of the foundation of both the Constitution and Catholic social teachings.  In Church documents, we call it subsidiarity: the idea that issues should be dealt with at the lowest level possible, for reasons of efficiency, personal relationships, and proper power and responsibility allocation.  The government was never meant to be the all-powerful, omnipresent force in everybody’s lives that it has become.

Archbishop Chaput, as always, clarifies the problem.  It isn’t, he argues, that this mandate was ill-advised in an election year or poorly thought-out:

But it’s clear that such actions are developing into a pattern. Whether it was the administration’s early shift toward the anemic language of “freedom of worship” instead of the more historically grounded and robust concept of “freedom of religion” in key diplomatic discussions; or its troubling effort to regulate religious ministers recently rejected 9-0 by the Supreme Court in the Hosanna Tabor case; or the revocation of the U.S. bishops’ conference human-trafficking grant for refusing to refer rape victims to abortion clinics, it seems obvious that this administration is – to put it generously – tone deaf to people of faith.

I’m guardedly optimistic that the USCCB has decided to reconsider what else they’ve supported when they’ve embraced Democratic politicians for their social programs but ignored their other positions.  If we’re only going to defend the rights of religiously affiliated organizations to have conscience protection, though, we’re missing the point again, and we’ll be discussing the next “surprising” anti-Christian piece of regulation shortly.

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Ah, the liberal media….

Ever since I was a plebe at Canoe U., many, many years ago, I have been a regular subscriber to a local paper (except, of course, when the Navy had me deployed somewhere).  Sure, the regular liberal spin and bias was annoying, so I wrote letters to the editor on occasion, and opened the paper to regular mutterings of, “Really?  THAT’S the best you can do?!”

Recently, our local paper has shrunk, both in thickness and size, due to “budget constraints”.  Read: “we’re losing subscribers.”  I can’t imagine why… I mean, besides the condescending attitude towards the military.  And the regular three or four page Sunday exposes on majorly depressing issues (isn’t there anything good to report on in-depth?).  Oh, yeah, and the nasty misrepresentations of conservatives, pro-lifers, and the Tea Party.  The removal of conservative Michelle Malkin as too abrasive, or something, but the regular printing of liberal Maureen Dowd, whose main goal in life seems to be tearing down the Catholic Church in as hateful a way as she can manage.  Then there was the promotion of Planned Parenthood as somewhere to go to get the big-pharma pushed cervical cancer vaccine (as if real doctors offices didn’t have it available) and regular printing of pro-abortion letters from a local “concerned grandma” who just happens to be the wife of the very well-paid director of Planned Parenthood of SE Virginia (she used to be their communications director, too), but why on earth should the paper mention that?  And the dropping of national, syndicated, talented editorial cartoonists, in exchange for promoting the local “sketch guy at large” with a penchant for being snarky to the editorial page in a budget-cutting measure.  Then there was the “Beck watchers are idiots” editorial, and…

I had to agree with the guy on the phone that, yes, “But we have coupons!” was one of the paper’s last selling points.  Until yesterday, that and the comics was good enough.

This Sunday, on the way home from church, my husband was reading the paper as usual, when he got to the “You have got to be kidding me, no coupon is worth paying for this kind of crap to be delivered to us regularly” editorial cartoon. I mean, the cartoonist doesn’t even seem to understand what the issue is… except that he thinks Catholic women are repressed because the Church doesn’t promote chemical contraceptives/abortifacients (and the Pill is an abortifacient in its secondary effects).  Which isn’t what the whole contraceptives mandate brouhaha is about at all.

So, good-bye Virginian-Pilot.  You never did have a very solid grasp of reason or reality, so I’m sure you’ll be confused as to why your readership continues to drop.  Your coupons were good, your plastic delivery bags are great poop-scoops for the dog, and, lacking newsprint, I’m not sure what I’ll use to clean mirrors.

But paying to be insulted regularly just isn’t worth it.

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Papal Scandal

Yet another sex-abuse scandal has broken in the Catholic Church.  Several, actually.

So, of course, people are crying for the Pope to be arrested when he visits Great Britain.  (Never mind that the main voice crying for the Pope to be tried for “crimes against humanity” happens to be a rather virulent atheist, who seems offended by the fact that he is surrounded by people so Neanderthal as to have faith in something science can’t prove.)

On another blog, someone left a comment asking if this latest scandal would shake the blogger’s faith in the infallibility of the pope.

Well, of course not.

Maybe the atheists are crowing, but the fact is, scandal has always been with us.  It is never a good thing.  As Jesus said, scandal will come, but it would be better for the scandal causer to have been thrown into the sea with a stone tied around his neck (presumably meaning before he had the chance to cause scandal).

Jesus predicted there would be scandal.  Why are we surprised?

Horrified, yes.

Determined to root out the causes, of course.

But not surprised.

The sad, shocking thing about it is how quickly the culture turned on the Catholic Church.  To listen to the reporting, you’d think most priests were serial pedophiles and no other church ever had a sex abuse scandal.  (In the U.S., at least, a number of recent, long-running major child abuse/sexual abuse scandals have been related to small, independent churches.  Not as much fun as lampooning the entire papist edifice, though, apparently.)  Maureen Dowd has built her career on harping on the Catholic Church’s failings (it would seem, from some things she’s written, that she considers the Church calling abortion evil to be one of its major failings, so any excuse to tear it down is welcome in Dowd’s office).

Gays being the new sacred cows, of course, not a word is ever breathed in the MSM about the fact that the vast majority of the abuse cases were homosexual in nature; it is unallowable to imply that gays are statistically more prone to be the offenders in these cases.  Of course, when Pope Benedict issued a letter directing seminaries to deny admission to young men with homosexual tendencies, the same people complained about that, too, because pointing out that the priesthood is not an “acceptable” dumping ground for unmarriagable gay men wasn’t in the left-leaning narrative, either, since the Pope called homosexuality what it is: a disordered desire.  To the Times, homosexuality has become not disordered, but simply diversity, and, therefore, desirable in the workplace.

Phil Donohue of the Catholic League was on EWTN’s news program, The World Over, last Friday.  He pointed out that one abuse case, of course, is too many.  That being said, there were only six cases of credible claims of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the U.S. last year.  If the New York Times et. al. were really concerned about protecting children, Donohue argued, then why aren’t they going after the public school systems, which have also swept abuse under the rug and had 290,000 credible allegations between 1990 and 2000?  (And, if it’s true that the statute of limitations have to be extended for Catholic sexual abuse cases because victims are slow to come forward, then why do the public school cases come out so much faster?  And will that extension apply to all abuse cases?)

Most of the claims during the crisis, in fact, had several things in common: they were decades old and they involved homosexual behavior.  In many cases, the perpetrator was long dead.  And yet, the cases were reopened in the courts on the justification that the diocese had to/could be punished (has anyone ever been allowed to sue a local or state School Board thirty years after the fact, I wonder?), and advocates within the Church cried that the problem was priestly celibacy.

Excuse me, but a wife will not fix either homosexual tendencies or pedophelia.

I suppose, though, if you’re an atheist or a left-leaning paper like the Times, you already assumed that Dan Brown writes documentaries and the Catholic Church really is a murderous, power-hungry, international club for sex-starved men.

As they say, it fits the narrative of certain people to assume that the Catholic Church can do no right, so every scandal, no matter how old, gets reported and plastered all over the papers.

Which, I suppose, is no surprise, either.  As has often been pointed out, anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable prejudice.

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As I was wandering through the blogs I have come across and liked, I found an article referenced at The Opinionated Catholic about Clear Creek Monastery.  It reminded me of an article I saved from the local paper a month or so back, thinking, “Hmmph.  I’m going to have to blog about this at some point…”

The article in the paper talked about the dwindling numbers of Immaculate Heart of Mary nuns in a “convent” that’s located in a subdivision; just a normal house, really, with a big cross on the side.  The nuns work at various jobs (including one who is a secretary at a Protestant church), read America (the Jesuit magazine; it apparently hasn’t been theologically sound for many years), and support each other.  Originally, the IHM’s were founded to teach, but nearly half of the order left to become lay people again as it reconfigured shortly after Vatican II.  Of the sisters left, many went out to find jobs where they felt called, often not in teaching positions.

Similarly, our local paper’s religion section (constantly in search of something to say, whether or not it’s intelligent) picked up some pre-digested feature from some national news generator on oh-my-gosh a young nun!  Who wears a suit with “sensible shoes”, likes Melissa Etheridge, has an iPod, catches mass “whenever”, and, from what I remember, doesn’t actually work in a church or church-related charity and lives alone.

Um… that’s nice, I guess, but hardly something you might be willing to give your life to.  Which is reflected in their order’s (and many other orders’) average age being in the lower 60’s, at best.  In their eagerness to be more “modern”, more acceptable to the world, they’ve forgotten something:

Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2, RSV)

The article that the Opinionated Catholic cited talks about a religious order of an entirely different character than those my local paper prefers to highlight.  Like many other orders going back to the roots of monasticism, the Clear Creek Monks are more traditional.  They celebrate mass in Latin, wear traditional habits, do a lot of prayer, sing Gregorian chant, and work hard on their monastery grounds.  The latest newsletter I received from them talked about how the economic downturn had negatively affected donations to their monastery.  Still flooded with young men answering God’s call to be monks, the brothers have set about building simple sheds and such to house the new vocations.

Their average age is far, far below 60.  As is the average age of a number of other orders, including several orders of nuns, who frequently send newsletters out saying, “Yes, we have a vocations crisis; we just finished the expansion of the Motherhouse, but have such a huge number of new novices, that we’ve had to put people to sleep in what was supposed to be the sewing room again!”  These sisters and brothers shine with the joy of finding just where God has called them; it’s so infectious, you just want to smile when you see them.  (and not just when they’re playing disc football, which seems to be what was going on below.  Go see lots of great photos of the monks, their monastery, the new makeshift cells, the sheep and cheese and woodworking, etc. here.)

clear creek monks recreation 130

What’s the difference?

I would submit that the difference is faithfulness to the timeless call of religious life.  Young people aren’t looking for something nearly like being a lay person, but with a bit of oversight and maybe some housemates.  You can have that without much of any committment at all.

Apparently, young people do answer the call to dedicate their lives to God through traditional religious orders.  Full, traditional habits.  Some are fully cloistered communities.  All have intentionally made moves to return to the original focusing reason that their orders were founded, whether that mission was teaching, preaching, or prayer.

There’s a lesson to be learned here about the wisdom of following our founding documents.  The amorphous mess often pushed in the Catholic Church as the “spirit” of Vatican II is gradually dying out in the face of those Catholics (including the last two popes) who are dedicated to the wisdom of what the documents from that council actually said.  (Hint: it wasn’t about tambourines at mass.)

The 60’s-commune version of religious life is dying.  Quickly.  It is being superseded by a return to vibrant, joyful, and decidedly youthful orders dedicated to renewing, strengthening, and praying for the Church.  Some are new orders, some are offshoots of older orders, some are reinvigorated orders returning to their calling.  But the true-to-the-foundation orders are starting to flourish again.

(Strangely, we’re watching something very similar happening on the American political scene.  Are we going to adhere to the ideals and trajectory set by our founding documents, or drown in the quicksand of the “living Constitution”?)

The shifting sand of, “Well, this is what we are today,” does not demand loyalty… or even respect.

The solid ground of, “This is who we are, what we do, and what we believe.  Come join us!” attracts people who sometimes weren’t even quite aware they were looking for something.  It isn’t overconfidence or false hope; there is something you can see in their faces: this is the Real Deal.  And they’re so excited about what they’ve found, that they can’t wait to share it with everybody.

Why accept the watered-down version?

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