Friday, May 25, 2012


My comments first: I've spoken of the academic elite and the aging liberals of the Church expanding on the use of the worn out term of radical feminist nuns of another period in the recent past "patriarchy" to describe the Church's leadership style and expanding it now to "monarchy" and "aristocracy" in order to denigrate the role of the Petrine Office in the Church and the role of the Magisterium. Some, as the 82 year old author below, even liken the pope to the dictators in Arab countries and the Arab spring that brought about their downfall. They seem to hope to foment that kind of downfall for the Church's leadership. So you get their drift, it almost sounds demonic doesn't it?

And this kind of sentiment born of the "spirit" of Vatican II that so many radical Catholics in Europe and America had hope for a more democratic style Catholicism that is like a reed swaying in the wind where polls are taken and doctrine and morals are adjusted to accommodate the Wal-mart mentality of the consumers of our Faith. The great fear of these radical Catholics is that if we don't please the customer they will go somewhere else, like to K-Mart or JCPenney or the like (substitute some Christian denomination or no affiliation yourself for these retail outlets).

But there is a very legitimate warning to those of us joining our Holy Father in the "reform of the reform within continuity of our 2000 year tradition" that we should take seriously. We cannot recover the pre-Vatican II rigidity of so many clergy, religious and laity nor should we recover the blatant clericalism of that period that accelerated in the post-Vatican II period and became an ugly beast infecting not only clergy and religious but for the first time the laity who took on more and more "clerical" responsibilities in full time positions in the parishes and bishops' offices. What has happened in the aftermath of Vatican II and with its false spirit was the laicization of the clergy and the clericalization of the laity.

As well, the "bleeding heart" "liberal" clericalism of bishops and priests of the post-Vatican II period who hid the mortal sins and crimes of abusing priests and sent them to comfortable treatment centers in order to recirculate them in other assignments to unsuspecting laity and their children needs to be forever ended.

The secrecy of the pre-Vatican II period needs to remain forever in the past too and new measures at solid transparency need to be established especially when priests become public sinners or criminals or simply break their promises of celibacy and obedience. Parishes need to be kept informed from on high as to what has happened (within confidentiality bounds of course) when a priest is removed from a parish due to scandal of whatever nature. And if the celibacy breach is consensual and non-pathological and the priest is returned to ministry, there should be a public reconciliation of such a priest by the bishop with the priest, the presbyterate and the community where the breach occurred. We've got to stop being so puritanical about sexual sins of a consensual nature all the while living in a media driven let is all hang out sexualized culture of libertine proportions. These are strange bed-fellows and the breach of the 6th Commandment and the promise of celibacy is not an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit. We need to get real here! Of course, I am speaking within reason here, but we all know of married people who commit adultery as well as priests who break their celibacy promises who are able to reconcile their lives to their promises/vows and resume healthy, moral lives!

But do we need to become like the Episcopalians, the United Methodists, the liberal branch of the Presbyterian Church? Hell no! That is a recipe for disaster and we have the data to prove it.

What we need is liturgical reform on a major level and a rediscovery of the Church Militant and a crystal clear international Catholic identity and for these indeed Holy Mother Church can and should reach back only so far as the 1950's to discover the recipe for that all the while steering clear of pre and post-Vatican II clericalism, laityism and the like as well as secrecy and the fear of scandal being brought to the light of Christ and His Church, the community of believers.

I recommend beginning with a return to Latin for the official Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons of the Mass including the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei; all else in the language of one's choice. I also recommend a return to meatless Fridays, Ember Days and the like. I recommend a stricter Lenten Discipline and more days of fast and abstinence. I recommend ad orientem and kneeling for Holy Communion and intinction as the norm for offering the Most Precious Blood. I recommend liturgies that are beautiful, with participation that is both active and contemplative. I recommend a return to the habit for religious, men and women and clerical attire for priests and deacons. I recommend a theology of active assent to the faith to promote the unity of the Church under the pope and bishops in union with him. The theology of dissent based upon the political model of loyal opposition must cease in the Church in the areas of faith and morals.

But another warning, we must be pastoral towards those in our parishes who struggle with sexual sins. We must be pastoral to those who have found partners to live with and where the Sacrament of Marriage is not possible. We cannot though call sin a virtue but we do have to allow people the freedom to live good lives under messy circumstances without compromising our high moral values and teachings. Sometimes the lesser of evils is better than the greater of evils (promiscuity verses monogamy; support of each other and children verses destitution and abandonment). Ultimately when people choose a lifestyle that can lead to their condemnation, we have to keep that between them and God and let them by God's grace work it out as long as they don't try to convince us in radical ways that we should publicly condone anything that goes against the faith and morals of the Church. Moral rigidity of the past with the focus only on sexual sins will alienate people who otherwise need to be at least coming to Mass every Sunday even if they are not free to receive Holy Communion! There is no scandal in remaining in the pew when at Communion time! There is a scandal when receiving Holy Communion unworthily especially when one's sin is public knowledge.

BOOK REVIEW: Devout Catholic calls on church to reform, adapt to modern age
Touching on gay marriage and multiple sex abuse scandals, Notre Dame alum Thomas Arthur Nelson offers up a passionate critique of the Roman Catholic Church in “An Ordinary Catholic: A View From The Pew”

(PR NewsChannel) / May 24, 2012 / FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich.

"An Ordinary Catholic: A View From The Pew" by Thomas Arthur Nelson

In “An Ordinary Catholic: A View From The Pew” (ISBN 1475016743), former Naval officer and Notre Dame graduate Thomas Arthur Nelson calls on his church to reform. A life-long Catholic, he offers a critique for the institution to return to a Jesus-centered faith of love. In this plea for change, Nelson speaks for the millions who have the left the Catholic Church in frustration as well as those who remain in the pews, discontent concealed behind prayers.

His memoir and essay is a unique tale of the conflicts between rigid church doctrine and real-life experience. He relates this conflict to some of the headline-grabbing church issues of the day, from the clerical sex abuse scandals to the doctrinal disputes over gay marriage. At 82, Nelson recounts his life journey of faith from an uncritical follower to an unlikely activist for reform. His voice is that of the Catholic laity who breathes so much life into mass and church activities yet is largely ignored when it comes to setting the moral direction of the church. He speaks to several social issues the church has yet to touch on, including elder abuse which in his eyes is a new scandal in the making.

This book is written from the point of view of a man who attends mass and takes communion regularly. He understands the joy of Catholicism and the resilience followers get from their faith. At the same time, he knows all too well their frustrations and fear of speaking out on strict, fantasy-based church doctrine.

“The institutional Roman Catholic Church over the centuries has evolved into a rigid aristocracy in the most classical sense . . . The pope, the emperor-king, leads the aristocratic elect, the hierarchy,” says Nelson. “Finally, at the lowest level is the ignorant laity, the ordinary folks who are assigned the stature of peasants and serfs.”

In his plea for reform, Nelson warns that in an era that has seen the rebellion of the Arab Spring, the Church will not be immune to cries for change.

About the Author: Thomas Arthur Nelson is a Notre Dame graduate who was raised and educated as a Catholic from kindergarten on. A former Naval officer, he is the author of the award-winning essay, “God Gave Me a Gay Son.” He is the father of six and grandfather to a dozen grandchildren.


rcg said...

Fantasy based, eh? Well, if he feels that way after 82 years he's frequently waisting his time in Mass. He has converted and is simply riding back into our camp to tell us how bad we are about to get beat.


Templar said...

Is that a real picture of B16 in the Tiaria? Did he wear it and I missed it?

Your post is great for the most part, although you lose me a little woards the end when you talk about being tolerant about sexual sin. I'm not sure I follow you on it. It's as if you are saying we should condone couples living in sin, or at least turn a blind eye towards it because the situation is "messy". That's a slippery slop. How many other Commandments shoul be tolerant of breaking because of messy situations?

As for Mister Nelson, Anathema springs to mind. The Church hasn't changed, socity has, and antone who say things like Hierarchy is obsolete, bad, whatever, is swallowing the crap the Enlightenment produced. This troubled world was never so good as when it was strictly ordered.

Anonymous 5 said...

I shot that picture! I shot that picture! I'm famous!

Anonymous 5 said...

At least I _think_ I shot that picture . . .

Anonymous said...

So, Father, how would you respond to someone who began masturbating and watching porn as a teenager and has become strongly attached to it, where the person cannot seem to give it up for more than a few weeks at a time? Would that strong attachment, perhaps habitual, maybe even addiction, according to the CCC, qualify for that person to be not culpible of sin? If so, does that mean, unlike all other sins, certain sexual sins (such as watching porn and masturbating) actually becomes less sinful the more a person does it, creating a strong, almost unbreakable attachment to the habit?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It is always at least venally sinful but there are so many levels to the sin from supporting an illicit industry that degrades its actors and sex itself. If one with this sort of addiction does not avail one self to treatment or therapy even medication for obsessive compulsive disorder another moral issue and sin may be present--omission. One should also not neglect or despair of the sacrament of penance also.

Joseph Johnson said...

Check out the second half of the CNS video on the SSPX on Rorate Caeli.

ytc said...

Can it actually be proven that there was an over-clericalization and laity-hate before Vateken Tew?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'm not tolerant on any sin Templar, but compassionate to sinners. Apart for political purposes in advancing a secular agenda, there are many people who are in "invalid" marriages due to divorce and remarriage. However, they live good lives, rear their children, support each other. No they shouldn't receive Holy Communion and yes they should seek an annulment if it can be granted. But yes also they should be coming to Church. Now if you had a gay son, would you want him leading a secret double life, promiscuous and addicted to sex or would you want him in a stable relationship and living a more normal life? Of course I would recommend chastity but what if that isn't a viable option as not everyone can do it unless given the grace by God. So that is the conundrum. But we seem not to be so hung up on other chronic sins, like people who drink too much or people who cuss or use the Lord's name in vain chronically, or read horoscopes and the like, all of which are related to one or the other of the 10 Commandments. We have people constantly yelling at one another, fighting and we don't seem to freak out over that.
Oh the Tiara photo I found on the internet and certainly it is photo-shopped.

Gene W. (formerly Pin) said...

Anonymous, Please do not refer to RCG's deviant behavior in amy more posts. It isn't polite to discuss someone's weaknesses...LOL!

Anonymous said...

Actually, terms like "patriarchy" and "monarchy" and referring to the Pope as a "foreign" power (to be compared to some Arab despot) used to prop up one dissenting agenda or another is as old as the Republic itself. That sort of discourse was definitely prevalent in newspaper debates about the direction in which the country was going during the foreign-policy crises of the 1790s.

And ultimately, it all boils down to the source of legitimate authority.

We need to keep that continuity in mind at all times, because in terms of this nation's historical memory, we romanticize dissent and the role that it's played in our origins and in our cherished freedoms (heck, we've been doing it for 200-odd years).


Templar said...

Hmmmm, what if I had a gay Son? Well, I would like to believe that I would treat him no differently then say if one of my Daughters choose to marry a Baptist. I would explain to them why it was wrong, why I can not condone it, and why if they choose to persist in the behavior I could not be party to it. I don't think a homosexual living in a stable relationship is any better than the homosexual living a secret double life addicted to dangerous behavior. At the core both are sinful, after that you're arguing about degrees of sinfulness, and I am not a modernist shades of grey proponent. I am a proponent of the cut and dry, right or wrong, and I can not take even one tiny step towards rationalization of something without trembling in fear that I will slide down that slippery slope. I spent far to many years of my youth rationalizing, nothing good comes of it. As Clergy I understand you're methods and views must be different than mine, but for me, I can only accept sinful nature and sinful acts if the person is repentant of them and moving step by step away from them. A Gay son who believes his monogamous relationship to be superior to a non-monogamous gay relationship is in denial and I say let him be anathematized. He would be no son of mine in more than genetic fact.

First we are tolerate. Then we accept. Finally we embrace. Sounds so nice and wonderful but it's a ticket to hell. I will remain intolerant of sinners who embrace their sins, and save my compassion for sinners who have renounced theirs.

rcg said...

I'm away for a weekend and all my secrets are exposed. I need to get my curtains fixed. Seriously, Anon, listen to FrAJM. The no sinner is beyond repair.

I might tell the person to pray about the problem, focus his thoughts on the fact that he KNOWS it is a sin and desires to repent. Don't 'meditate' on it like it's a self-help deal. I'd tell the person to invest in a Missal and READ THE Chapter on the Rite of Penance. It's like lifting a rock off your heart. GO TO CONFESSION, then when the contrite heart is open all the rest will be easy, if it's getting counseling, medication, or just throwing the junk out and getting a new set of friends. The cool part is that this is useful for all sins.

Men, real men, know we all do these things. A real man understands and will help another man get over it. That person is not alone, in this world or any other.