Tuesday, April 30, 2013


MY COMMENTS FIRST: This Holy Father constantly reminds us of the Devil. How many times have you heard reference to the devil in homilies in your church? I have lost count now how many times in two short months Pope Francis has made reference to the Devil and that the devil is the father of lies. Yes, folks, the Holy Father, Francis, knows that we are in a spiritual battle and that we need God's grace to assist us. Therefore we must pray for the Church, all of us who comprise the Church, each of us. Jesus is the only one who can look in the face of evil (the prince of this world, the devil) and overcome it! Got that?

This Pope is calling us to simplicity of faith, not to be worldly, to be Christ-centered. Fasten your seat belts we're in for a bumpy ride. And they thought Pope Benedict was a RESTORATIONIST! Wow! They ain't seen nothin' yet! Pope Francis is restoring the true Catholic Faith to the Church, mark my word!


Pope: A worldly Church cannot transmit the Gospel

(Vatican Radio) A worldly Church is a weak Church. The only way to stop this from happening is to entrust the Church to the Lord through constant prayer. This was the message at the heart of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass Tuesday morning, celebrated with staff from the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, also known as APSA. Emer McCarthy reports:

"We can safeguard the Church, we can cure the Church, no? We do so with our work, but what’s most important is what the Lord does : He is the only One who can look into the face of evil and overcome it. The prince of the world comes but can do nothing against me: if we don’t want the prince of this world to take the Church into his hands, we must entrust it to the One who can defeat the prince of this world. Here the question arises: do we pray for the Church, for the entire Church? For our brothers and sisters whom we do not know, everywhere in the world? It is the Lord's Church and in our prayer we say to the Lord: Lord, look at your Church ... It' s yours. Your Church is [made up of ] our brothers and sisters. This is a prayer that must come from our heart".

Then, Pope Francis remarked that "it is easy to pray for the grace of the Lord", "to thank Him" or when "we need something." But it is fundamental that we also pray to the Lord for all, for those who have "received the same Baptism," saying "they are Yours, they are ours, watch over them".

"Entrust the Church to the Lord is a prayer that makes the Church grow. It is also an act of faith. We can do nothing, we are poor servants - all of us - of the Church: it is He who keeps her going and holds her and makes her grow , makes her holy, defends and protects her from the prince of this world and what he wants the Church to become, in short more and more worldly. This is the greatest danger! When the Church becomes worldly, when she has the spirit of the world within herself, when that peace which is not that of the Lord - that peace when Jesus says, 'I leave you peace, my peace I give you', not as the world gives it - when she has that worldly peace, the Church is a weak Church, a defeated Church, unable to transmit the Gospel, the message of the Cross, the scandal of the Cross ... She cannot transmit this if she is worldly”.

During his homily, Pope Francis returned several times to the importance of prayer to entrust "the Church to the Lord", the path to "the peace that only He can give":

"Entrust the Church to God, entrust the elderly, the sick, the children, the youth ... 'Safeguard your Church Lord ': she is yours! With this attitude, He will give us, in the midst of tribulations, the peace that only He can give . This peace which the world cannot give, that peace that cannot be bought, that peace which is a true gift of the presence of Jesus in the midst of his Church. Entrusting the Church that is in distress: there are great tribulations, persecution ... there are. But there are also small tribulations: the small tribulations of illness or family problems ... entrust all this to the Lord guard your Church in tribulation, so she does not lose faith, so she does not lose hope. "

Pope Francis concluded : "May the Lord make us strong so we do not lose faith, so we do not lose hope”. Entrusting the Church to the Lord “will do us and the Church good. It will give us great peace [and although] it will not rid us of our tribulations, it will make us stronger in our sufferings”.


Van said...

But, if a "worldly church" is weak, then why do we have and continue to promote a "worldy", i.e. horizontal, liturgy, the Novus Ordo? Why do we continue to build "worldly", i.e. plain, auditorium-like, worhip spaces, instead of grand and traditional Churches? Why does the pope reject traditional papal trappings, yet promotes himself - in a rather egocentric and show offy way - in a form of "earthy and worldy" humbleness? Bottom line, talk is cheap and actions speak louder than words. Pope Francis says all the right things, but his actions seem to go in a different direction. Until he backs up his words with some powerful action, we may have a schizophrenic papacy very similar to the Vatican II council, where there is what Pope Francis actually says, and then there is the "spirit of Pope Francis".

Anon 3 said...

Another top Vatican cleric, Fr Lomabardi, hints at approval of homsexual relations:

If the things Pope Francis say are to be taken seriously, rather than "tongue in cheek", he better start craking down on the growing dissent happening on his watch.

And I say again, if the magestarium approves of gay marriage, I demand to be allowed to enjoy porn and masturbation without sin.

Gene said...

Ah, Van Grasshopper, you ask velly difficult riddle...when you are able to snatch the Marty Haugen hymnal from my hand, you will be ready to leave.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

A-3 what Lombardi and other bishops have been saying has nothing to do with the Church--it is about what the state is doing and the Church trying to convince the state not to call homosexual civil unions marriage, for it isn't marriage. We talking government action here and if a government or the political system wants to afford the political rights that married couples have in terms of inheritance, social security, hospital visitation, that is a civil issue. It isn't marriage in the sense that the Church uses it, for the state could take away the political rights of married couples.

So don't mix apples and oranges as the church can't prevent civil partnerships and never has tried.

And to Van, the Liturgies that I see Pope Francis celebrating are far from horizontal and he is very much like Pope Benedict in his demeanor at Mass, very serious and not playing to the congregation. His vestments are austere, but not cheap, they are simple looking.

Gene said...

But, the Church should speak out against their defiling of marriage and the mockery of traditional morality no matter what the State calls it. We bear strong witness to the State regarding abortion, why not for an abomination that is also destructive of family and respect for life? I think the Church is playing word games with the State.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Gene, the Church isn't calling civil unions marriage. It isn't a marriage, it is a civil union or partnership and that is what the Church is trying to get the state to recognize. I don't think it will help, but the Church will never say that a civil union between two people of the same sex or of the opposite sex is a marriage. It simply is not. It is a legal arrangment and depending on your political outlook is good or bad for the nation in terms of the legal benefits they will receive.
By the way, the Catholic Church does not recognize any marriage where the persons marrying are not free to marry, such as after a civil divorce (which the Church acknowledges for the good of the party as a legal right and to make sure children are cared for and alimony is paid, etc) but the person is still married in the eyes of God and the Church until proven otherwise in a Catholic court of canon law.

rcg said...

FrAJM, I sot of agree with Gene. What I see is a point in the near future where the Church will need to say that it does not recognise State marriages as a Sacrament, that people must be married in the Church and be faithful to each other exclusively to be recognised as marriage. The State can, of course reciprocate and require all people get their mark of Satan charter from the State in order to have legal rights. There is no need to change the Church teachings, simply say that the State marriages are not valid except as legal documents and that they may impact the freedom to marry. We need to move apart from contrast ourselves with the State.

Anonymous 2 said...

Dear Father McDonald,

Here we go again it seems, round and round on this question of same-sex marriage/civil unions.

You are, of course, absolutely correct to draw the analytical distinctions you do. And what you describe as the Church’s position makes a lot of sense to me, as will be clear from my comments on this topic in earlier threads. However, as I have also indicated before, I remain perplexed by apparent official statements from the hierarchy that seem to differ from the position as you describe it. Here again are the links:




The bottom line for the USCCB, then, seems to be captured in the following statement in the first link:

“On two different occasions, in 2003 and 2006, the USCCB Administrative Committee stated: ‘We strongly oppose any legislative and judicial attempts, both at state and federal levels, to grant same-sex unions the equivalent status and rights of marriage – by naming them marriage, civil unions, or by other means.’”

Has the Church’s position changed? Or have I not understood something properly? Or is the key a distinction between recognition that is “equivalent” to marriage versus recognition that is not “equivalent”? I really need to know the answer to these questions because I find myself having to represent the Church’s position to family, friends, and colleagues, and I want to be sure I get it right.

Many thanks.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If the USA was dealing with the issue of divorce, I think the USCCB would be on record as being opposed to it. My recommendations which I'm on record as saying months ago is that same sex marriage in the civil arena is already happening in many states and more than likely in 10 years or less may be allowed in all states. I'm a pragmatist. Of course the US Supreme court could change all of that and favor marriage as being between on man and one woman at a time, but I don't know.
So given the fact that some states already allow it and other will in the future barring any divine intervention in the form of the Supreme Court or the Second Coming of Christ, I would say, let the Catholic Church stop allowing a post-Christian, secular religion of the government dictate to us what constitutes marriage. Let's just say to a Catholic couple that only marriage in the Catholic Church are recognized by the Catholic Church as the Sacrament or Union of Holy Matrimony. However, in order to get married in the Church, civil requirements must be taken care of before the Solemnization of the marriage in the Catholic Church, meaning the government fringe benefits of a legal recognized union in civil law. But we wouldn't call that marriage and if a Catholic enters a civil union, heterosexual or homosexual and is breaking the fornication laws of the Bible as well as the adultery laws of the Bible, not to mention Natural Law, they sin, and do so mortally and if public are public sinners and therefore should not be admitted to the sacraments of the Church which require a Catholic to be in good standing with the Church who have repented of their sins, public or private and have rectified their situation with the Church.

We already have this with Catholic who marry civilly in a second marriage, which the state recognizes, where they get certain benefits from the state, but the Church does not acknowledge as a the Union or Sacrament of Holy Matrimony sanctioned by God and Church.

Marc said...


Here's Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, as Prefect for the Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith, in an official Church document setting forth the Church's position contra civil unions.

What say you now, Father? How does this gel with your opinion?

Marc said...

And for the lazy, here's the conclusion to the previously referenced document, which was approved by the Supreme Pontiff Blessed John Paul II:

"The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."

Gene said...

Tell ya' what...I know we can't do it on this blog, but when you are in public or with acquaintances who are sympathetic to unnatural acts, refer to gays by their sexual behaviors instead of the euphemistic names that PC dictates. That's right...be descriptive...even lurid. Then, let's see how some of these passive, go-along-to-get-along types and fence sitters begin to think of "gays." They need to hear it...a lot. For example: "You do realize what they do, don't you? First, the wife takes his...etc." Yes, I've done it.

Anonymous 5 said...

Re Marc's and A2's posts: Is there any possibility that these prior statements are of a prudential rather than a doctrinal nature, relating mainly to the border between the Church and the state?

On the other hand, even if this is so, just because something is technically a state rather than a Church matter doesn't automatically exempt that matter from judgment by the Church as to whether it's in accord with natural law. For instance, the Church doesn't care whether the state says abortion is legal or not; it's still wrong, and the Church speaks out against it. So even if the Vatican comments above are merely prudential, the shift is still troubling, though not on the same level as the apparent doctrinal difficulties, posed by the VII language, that the hierarchy is assiduously avoiding.

But there's an even more troubling problem here. Everyone is now treating "civil unions" as a massive word game. Those who are opposed to same-sex marriage are pretty much saying that as long as you don't call it marriage, and as long as you don't force the Church to bless it, then it's fine. But if a civil union carries with it all the legal rights and duties of marriage, then isn't it walking and quacking like a duck?

To put it another way, if the state were making no bones about calling same-sex marriage "marriage," the Church would (or should) say simply "These aren't marriages. The arrangement is a nullity in defiance of natural law. The 'spouses' are engaging in gravely disordered activity and the state license they have doesn't change that." But change the label and presto! It's OK (or at least we have to acquiesce to it's existence) as long as we're not forced to sacramentalize it in church. This smacks of moral relativism: "Well, it certainly isn't what the _Church_ regards as a marriage."

And, anyway, the Left won't be satisfied with the phrase "civil unions." There's already a lot of pressure just to call it marriage. So you'll soon have a situation where everybody _but_ the Church calls it marriage, while the Church will incongruously keep calling it "civil unions" like that makes everything OK.

The formula should be: Same-sex marriage cannot exist. A civil union is a euphemism for a state-recognized "marriage" between two persons of the same sex. Therefore civil unions are invalid, null, and void, and the parties to it are in a gravely disordered relationship.

Instead, the formula becomes: "The Church cannot recognize same-sex marriage. Civil unions aren't marriages because they have a different name. Since civil unions are a legal and not a sacramental arrangement, the state is free to authorize them, so long as the state doesn't comple the Church to sacramentalize them."

I agree with Fr. McD that we've lost this battle. But losing is one thing. saying that the victorious opponents are right is quite another. And by conceding that the state may validly establish "civil unions" we're saying that the state is right.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are many things that the Church is opposed to and has it in writing from Scripture to Tradition to Natural Law to an exhortation that Marc links.
But then we as a Church have to live with that which we oppose and sometimes in our own family. A 3 wants his porn, but the Church is opposed to it, but the primary vehicle that he is getting it is from the media and in particular from the internet that we are all taking advantage of. Is anyone railing against the internet here? I suspect everyone here enjoys it with its warts and all.
What no one is addressing is the fact that soon many states will allow same sex unions with the same benefits as heterosexual marriage. Heterosexuals are in civil unions now all over the world and technically in the eyes of the Church aren't married because they have a previous spouse that is morally their only spouse. Yet the government treats them as married and we even call what they do a marriage.
Heterosexuals break natural law as it concerns sex all the time, especially those who use artificial birth control and experiment or exclusively use the same type of sex that homosexuals use even when the heterosexuals have recourse to natural sex. So what's up with that? No one here seems preoccupied by that.

Yes, the Church is right to have a dog in the fight against justifying same sex unions as though these are marriages when in fact these aren't marriages just as a goodly number of heterosexual marriages aren't really marriages.

My question is how to we live as Catholics when our dog in the fight is mauled to death?

I happen to agree with the good Archbishop of Miami, but what is he going to do when same sex marriage is the law of Florida?


Gene said...

I see the Church just excommunicated a Brazilian Priest for openly defying the Church's teachings on homosexuality, etc. Good job! Only about a million more to go...

JBS Was Here said...

"The church can't prevent civil partnerships and never has tried". I don't know if she can prevent them, but her official policy certainly is to try.
From the CDF, March 28, 2003: "The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behaviour or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behaviour, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself."

Anonymous 5 said...

Fr. McD,

All good points. The difference here, I think, is that same-sex "marriage" is currently "in the news," i.e., it's a new development that essentially didn't exist a few years ago, and it's developing very rapidly and in a very high-profile way. In that sense it needs addressing in a different way from cohabitation (straight or gay), which is a perennial/chronic behavioral issue.

Additionally, cohabitation isn't a legal status in the way marriage is, although the law has certainly developed to reflect that it's now a widespread thing. Additionally, it was/is a grass-roots movement rather than a concerted effort to force state action in order to sanction it. It simply evolved (or devolved), while the gay "marriage" movement is based on referenda and very high-profile litigation. Even in the case of similar litigation in the past (e.g., Eisenstadt v. Baird, Lawrence v. Texas) the Supreme Court was essentially "ratifying" behavior that was already socially widespread.

Here the situation is different. Unlike cohabitation, which is a practice, There can be no gay "marriage," which is a legal status, unless the state or the court formally permits/requires it, and this is coming about within a very short space of time, as these things go. Ten, even five years ago, it wasn't an issue because most people would have laughed at it. Ten, even five years from now, it won't be an issue because it will be a fait accompli, and the Church will be reduced to treating it as it's been treating cohabitation for the last 40 years, a chronic social problem that's unlikely to go away just because fo Church criticism. But for the hierarchy to just shrug its shoulders in a defeatist way at this moment--and, more than that, say that in a sense gay marriage is "ok" because it's a state matter--is to be irresponsible, fallacious, and relativistic. By way of analogy, the Church might as well say that cohabitation is OK because state law allows _that_. (For that matter, re A3's comments, the state also allows masturbation and porn, so the Church should sayt those things are OK too.) Yet the Church doesn't officially say that. Why the double standard?

Anon 3 said...

The problem I see with this "new" position of the Church letting the State have civil unions and the Church have marriages, is that the words coming from the top Vatican clerics only speak of approving so-called "civil unions", but say nothing of the sinful factor such unions will still hold, as FrAJM elaborates on. The message I'm getting from the Vatican is "lets approve of civil unions". It's only half the message, according to FrAJM, so why aren't they giving the whole message????? Unless they are planning to "loose" sexual sins, no longer "binding" them to modern man (Biblical precident: God "allowed" divorce for the Jews because as a society, it became too entrenched in their culture).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I guess I see the Church fighting a losing battle here especially now that the media and gay rights advocates couch the marriage issue as a civil right which it isn't but try to convince them of that and their supporters.

We as a Church have to be sensitive to the fact that those who do support gay marriage see it as a civil right and similar to the struggle for the civil rights of Blacks in the 1960's. I don't agree with that comparison but there you have it.

If same sex marriage is the law of a state or of the nation eventually, what do you recommend the Catholic Church do in general and parishes in particular?

I think that anyone who is a Catholic and in a marriage not sanctioned by the Church should not receive Holy Communion--in fact that is current Church law--but that could be adjusted down the road, but who knows?

Gene said...

It is an insult to Blacks to equate this gay marriage nonsense with the Civil Rights struggle. Blacks of that era were fighting against true injustice in a society founded upon justice and freedom. It was a true outrage. Sissies can eat anywhere they like, shop at stores, use public restrooms and sit anywhere they please on a bus or train...and look at what we tolerate from them in public sex displays in SF and New Orleans, and other decadent cities.They have Civil Rights. They are simply pouting and stomping their feet because the State and the Church won't bless their deviant and abhorrent behavior. Blacks, even when rioting, never behaved so badly...

Marc said...

Good post, Gene. I'd add that gays also have the same civil rights as the rest of us already: to marry in accordance with natural and civil law. They are choosing not to avail themselves of that right because of their disordered passions.

Templar said...

I liked the Church more when we just killed the Heretics.

Gene said...

Templar, I often point this out to RCIA classes: There was a time when the Church executed heretics. That seems outrageous to the so-called modern mind, but think about it. If someone murders a Catholic who is in a state of grace, he has robbed him of his life but this Catholic will spend eternity with Christ in Paradise. But, if a false teacher, a heretic, leads Catholics away from the Church and a true belief in Christ, then he has destroyed his eternal soul. So, which is worse?
We have become such slaves to "reason" and modernist views of rationality that we cannot imagine that any idea or belief might have eternal consequences.
Now, I understand that sometimes the Church's power was used inappropriately or for simple political expediency, but the Church at her best was, indeed, defending the Faith and protecting her flock from those who would lead them astray with disastrous consequences for their salvation.

Now, let me ask this (along with Templar, I'm sure)...what has changed? Does the same threat to the eternal salvation of misguided souls not exist? Are people like Kung or Silly Bleets (Schillebex) or John Kerry or Nancy Pelosi not false teachers? What if this were the thirteenth century? Where would these people be...(sizzle, crackle, tortured screams)...and why would it not be justified? Do you think I am joking? Or, is eternal salvation just not an issue anymore...hmmmmmm?

Anonymous 5 said...

The simple difference between the civil rights movement and gay "marriage" movement is that the civil rights movement wasn't trying to get legal sanction for something that was in violation of the natural law. If anything, quite the opposite.

I suppose that the white supremacists of the time argued that mixed-race marriages were unnatural, but to my knowledge such an idea has never been part of Church teaching.

John Nolan said...

The Church did not execute heretics; heresy was seen as a crime against the state and obdurate heretics were "relaxed to the secular arm".

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene and Templar: One man’s heretic is another man’s martyr. Within the history of Christianity, Protestants have also executed Catholics (although whether for heresy or something else is not always quite so clear it seems). Let’s keep the State out of the heresy business and deal with it in other ways. Where in the New Testament does it say that heretics should be executed? In particular, where does Jesus command that they be executed? And what did the Church do before it gained access to the levers of political power?

JBS Was Here said...

"...I see the Church fighting a losing battle here..." It certainly seems so, but from a merely human perspective God always seems to be fighting loosing battles. It is not for us to conclude that the battle for souls is lost. No one is lost until Judgement Day. Acceptance of unnatural civil unions, however, only makes the battle for souls more difficult to fight.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

John I think that is what most forget that the state and the Church were unified, but there was the secular aspect in terms of meting out justice and carrying out the death sentence was precisely within the secular component of the state, but the Church still provided the prayers for the one to be executed accompanying them in prayer prior, during and afterward. It doesn't get any better than that! :)

Gene said...

John and Anon 2, You are missing my point...but first the technicality...the State was the temporal arm of the Church in Christendom. Even though, as with Joan of Arc and others, the Church turned the heretics over to the State, it amounted to the same thing. The Church approved of the executions. Calvin, of course, burned Servetus on his own in Geneva and for the same reasons. My point, however, was about the seriousness with which heresy and false teaching should be taken...and once were.
Anon 2, This "one man's heretic is another's martyr" stuff won't fly. Again, you are revealing your relativistic philosophy. Shall we say then that one man's Hitler is another man's St. Francis? Heresy is heresy, no matter if it is Protestant or Catholic.
And, Anon 2, Catholic tradition and teaching do not limit themselves to Scripture, the NT, or Jesus teachings, remember? So, just because it does not appear in the New Testament does not mean the Church did not consider it doctrine or practice. There was a time, like now, when the Church was fighting for her life and severe measures were necessary.
My question still stands regarding ideas having eternal consequences and the seriousness with which false teaching and unbelief should be taken.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: I am not revealing my relativistic philosophy. I think you know better than that. My point is that the Catholic martyrs were the Protestants’ heretics – execution for heresy doesn’t look so good when seen from that perspective does it?

And I am aware that Catholic tradition and teaching are not limited to Scripture, the New Testament or Jesus’s teachings. But how did Jesus, who is God after all, deal with those who would not follow Him? That seems to be a good starting point. Or did God change His mind when coming as the Holy Spirit? And what about my question regarding the first few centuries of the Church before the Church had access to the lethal power of the State?

All that said, of course your fundamental point about the diminished importance attached nowadays to eternal consequences is well taken.

Gene said...

Anon 2, Well, if we leave it in the realm of doctrinal issues, I agree with you. Execution for heresy does not look too good to the modern mind under any circumstances. But, in the context of belief and the culture of the Middle Ages, it is certainly understandable. And, if we step outside (if that is possible) our modern rationalism and look at the central issue, eternal salvation and the saving of souls, then severe punishment of false teaching...the leading astray of the Faithful... is not such an outrageous concept. It is abhorrent to modern sensibilities, but modern sensibilities, it should be noted, are not all they are cracked up to be.
Now, we might draw a comparison with, say, the Rosenbergs...who sold US atomic bomb information to the Russians (yes, I have read all the controversy about guilty or not). Is it unreasonable to execute those who commit treason? Treason is often based upon a philosophical political ideology...a doctrine, if you will (money is also a motive). However, treason could lead to the deaths of many in a nation. Why should the nation not execute those who plot to destroy her? And, is not the destruction of thousands of souls worse than the destruction of thousands of physical bodies?

Now, about the NT and how Jesus dealt with those who would not folow him...Jesus did not say much about them other than to say He wished to "draw all" unto him...the sheep of other pastures. He confronted them and they either followed Him or not. There are some theological and exegetical issues here which are too involved to get into, however, Jesus' ministry was primarily to his own people. The much vaunted "love" passages, the exhortations to righteousness, His mighty acts and parables, were primarily directed to the Jews who understood "where He was coming from," as it were. His interaction with the Syro-Phoenician woman was an indication that those other than Jews can be saved, but Christ himself was not pitching so much to those outside Judaism. It was Paul and, later, John who expanded Christ's outreach to include the Gentile world. So, I am always a bit put off by glib theologies that assume Christ intended us to embrace even those who would destroy the Church. When Christ spoke of forgiving those who Crucified Him, he was talking about His own people, you know. He did not say anything about the Romans, Pilate, or Caesar. So, we assume a lot about how Jesus might have viewed the enemies of the Church who came later...with the disclaimer that I am making assumptions from another perspective.

Now, what about the first three centuries when the Church did not have political power...we were too busy avoiding Nero, Trajan, and others to think much about it...but, once the Church had political power I believe she was wise to use it to preserve purity of doctrine, the integrity of His Holy Church, and your's and my eternal souls.

John Nolan said...

Gene, in western Christendom it is misleading to see the State as "the temporal arm of the Church", which implies a theocracy which is axiomatic in Islam but very rare in Christendom; something of the sort prevailed in Calvin's Geneva and Cromwell's England, although the latter was to all intents and purposes a military dictatorship. The caesaro-papalism characteristic of Eastern Chistendom is very different; in this case the Church is the spiritual arm of the State, not vice versa.

Redde autem Caesari quod est Caesaris, et Deo Dei. During the Investiture Contest in medieval Germany the papacy conceded that a bishop could receive the 'temporalities' of his see from the emperor, but not the 'spiritualities'. The relation between Church and State was essentially symbiotic, although their respective authorities often overlapped and sometimes conflicted.

At his trial, St Thomas More (who was not sqeamish when it came to enforcing the heresy laws) was not arguing that the State was subject to the Church, although the authority of princes was ultimately derived from God; he was arguing that human law could not trump divine law. This argument is still relevant today.

Gene said...

John, I accept your "symbiotic relationship" description of the Church/state during the Middle Ages. My point still stands, however, that the Church condoned, even encouraged, the execution of heretics at various times. There are strong passages in Luther and Calvin regarding the State as the "sword of Divine Law." Anyway, my initial point is getting lost in historical detail.

Gene said...

I will also remind you that John Hus was condemend for heresy by the Church, held in a Franciscan monastery, tried by a Church council in a Cathedral, and a High Mass was held before his execution by burning at the stake...BY THE CHURCH...FOR HERESY.

Templar said...

Holy Mother Church, never shied away from correcting her wayward children. Ask the Cathars.

I, for one, would die a happy man to be martryed for The Faith. It would be a damn sight better judgement than the one I'm likely to merit.

"Caedite eos! Novit enim Dominus qui sunt eius"

Richard Brotherton said...

I am an 80 year old liberal Democrat cradle Catholic. I do not agree with much of the information that is posted on your blog. I see that, in order to join, I must be approved by you. What are my chances of joining...and of having my comments posted?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I post most comments but not all, so I do attempt to screen some of the more ugly comments that attack people rather than ideas. So comment away but prepare for rebuttals from others.

Anonmyous 2 said...

Gene: I really liked your post. I agree 110% that it is the height of modern arrogance to sit atop our Olympian pinnacle and pass judgment on the peoples and nations of the world, including our own ancestors when we usually do not have the first clue about their situation or “worldview.” In fact, a good part of my own efforts in the academy are aimed at helping people (including myself) see this arrogance more clearly and to combat it by trying to acquire a little more humility (epistemological and otherwise).

That said, we cannot avoid judgment as long as we have to make practical decisions in life. I seek only to postpone it until understanding has first been acquired (or at least as much understanding as is practically feasible).

With regard to heresy specifically, understanding the situation of the Church and her worldview in the circumstances of centuries long past not only helps us to be more empathetic to our ancestors; it also helps to illuminate our current predicaments as you suggest and in particular to refocus us on eternity and eternal consequences for souls. But it does not lead me to want to reintroduce the death penalty for heresy. As I said above, I would prefer to look for other solutions. Modernity is not all bad, after all, and in some ways we have made progress towards more “civilized” solutions and methods. In other ways, of course, we have regressed (abortion and weapons of mass destruction, for example). When I look at these other ways I am sometimes almost convinced by Templar’s apparent preference for the old style Christian monarchies. Almost -- but not quite. So, I would rather clean the bathwater than throw out modernity altogether.

As to Jesus and the New Testament, I must acknowledge your much greater Biblical expertise but I would still want to resist the implications of some of what you say. I just don’t see Jesus wanting to deal with those who refuse Him, or even those who are His “enemies,” through violence, even as the resurrected Christ, and it saddens me no end that His Holy Name has been invoked, and indeed is still invoked (perhaps under the more generic title of “God”), to justify and perpetrate barbarity. I expect someone will come back at me with Revelation, though. And, as for those who are forgiven for crucifying Him, I hope it is a broader group than you suggest, because I would like to be included.

Anonymous 2 said...

Richard: Speaking for myself, I would welcome your voice at the table. One of the lamentable features of our times is what I would call “internet tribalism” in which many Blogs seem to preach to the choir and perpetuate a self-reinforcing and closed point of view. Personally, I don’t think this is particularly healthy. Even if one disagrees strongly with a challenge, responding to a thoughtful and respectful challenge requires us to confront possible weaknesses in our positions and either to strengthen them or possibly modify them (if only sometimes in subtle ways).

Gene said...

RCG,Why would a liberal faux Catholic even come on this blog...other than to stir crap? He needs to go on over to Prey Tail. And why do you refer to a group of like minded traditionalist Catholics who want to discuss liturgical and theological matters among themselves as "internet tribalism?" Quit being so disgustingly conciliatory toward the enemy.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: Your ire should be directed at me, not rcg.

I refer to internet tribalism because many Blogs of “like minded” people seek to exclude anyone, and I mean anyone, from the conversation who disagrees with or challenges them. Such uncritical “groupthink’ is not healthy in my view. To begin with, it makes one weak. It would be a pretty useless boxer who had no sparring partner and a pretty useless tennis player or chess player who only played partners who are much less expert.

But of course “internet tribalism” is symptomatic of a broader malaise in our polity. Here one could also refer to “network tribalism,” for example. To a large extent we have a dysfunctional media, a dysfunctional Congress, and a dysfunctional Blogosphere. To take one egregious example of the lamentable consequences of this sort of silliness -- Senators used to socialize with one another across the aisle, but not anymore it seems; no wonder they can’t get anything done.

For goodness sake, we should talk with one another and engage in proper conversation in which we seek to persuade the other, not demonize them as “the enemy” and refuse to engage with them at all. Otherwise let’s hang it all up, stop pretending we have anything even close to a “democracy,” and move to North Korea where they have become very proficient at shutting out any threatening ideas.

Although it is not a democracy, similar considerations apply to conversation among brothers and sisters in Christ. If you think Richard, Pater Ignotus, me, or anyone else is mistaken, misguided, or deluded, and even if you think they are the “enemy,” then show them why and how they are wrong. It is, perhaps, one way to “love your enemies,” as we are all called to do – especially as the real Enemy is not any of them but the Evil One who deceives them.

Gene said...

Anon 2, Since we live in a society that is literally awash in "rights," I have the right to talk with like-minded people on a blog without having to put up with apostate Priests, liberal lulus, and octogenarians who still haven't learned anything and who want to come on the blog for the sole reason of bitching, whining, and carping. Hell, no, I don't welcome him.

Anonymous 2 said...

Gene: Since you invoke “rights” – in itself an interesting and unexpected move on your part – what about the “right” of readers of the Blog to witness some meaningful, thoughtful, and spirited dialogue and debate, provided it is within the norms set by civil discourse and by the teaching of the Church (after all, we must submit to the magisterium)? Is there a Catholic Blog that caters to such dialogue and debate between “traditionalists” and “progressives”? If that is what Richard is after, perhaps you can refer him there. I might even visit it myself. And if there is no such Blog, then I maintain there should be.

Anonymous said...

But sir, so many children abused in the Church!

Pope Francis “Who am I to Judge?”

Did not the Lord give you authority! and what about the many countless victims? no justice for them!

Pope Francis ” Gay clergy should be forgiven and their sins forgotten”