Friday, November 6, 2015


This is a very good post from Mark Shea's blog. Some of the comments he posts and then responds are like some of the comments I have to delete. Very interesting:

A reader struggles with his faith

He writes:
I am sorry but I simply had to reach out to a fellow Catholic.
I may not be too much help, but here goes.
I feel that I am losing my religion.  I had once believed that the Holy Spirit guides the College of Cardinals in the selection of the most wisest holiest candidate for the position.
Why would you think that given the fact that cardinals chose Alexander VI?  Or that Jesus chose Peter?  Recall Chesterton: ” “When Christ at a symbolic moment was establishing His great society, He chose for its cornerstone neither the brilliant Paul nor the mystic John, but a shuffler, a snob, a coward – in a word, a man. And upon this rock He has built His Church, and the gates of Hell have not prevailed against it. All the empires and the kingdoms have failed, because of this inherent and continual weakness, that they were founded by strong men and upon strong men. But this one thing, the historic Christian Church, was founded on a weak man, and for that reason it is indestructible. For no chain is stronger than its weakest link.”
I no longer believe that since Francis has become the Pontiff.  It was evident to me when JPII and Benedict were made popes but something went horribly wrong with the election of Francis.
Nothing has gone horribly wrong.  What has happened is that false expectations you placed on God and the Church are dying and you are experiencing the pain of that loss.  But Francis has not, in fact, said or done anything heterodox with respect to the Faith, merely with respect to your human expectations about things neither Jesus nor the faith ever promised in the first place.  You are losing faith in false human traditions you projected on to the Faith, not in any promise Jesus or the Church ever actually made.
Maybe the Holy Spirt does not guide the Church in these matters?  Maybe it was a lie?  Maybe everything else is a lie too?  I am losing my faith.   I feel like my faith is unravelling.
It would be good to cross-examine your assumption in light of the Church’s actual teaching then and ask, “Which is more likely?  That Jesus Christ and the apostles, martyrs, and saints are a pack of liars, or that I am wrong about something somewhere and need to rethink the unspoken assumptions and demands I placed on God without ever asking?”  Common sense says its the latter.  So ask:  “Where have I elevated mere human traditions and assumptions to the level of divine revelation?  What can I do to give that up and stick with what God has actually said through Holy Church?”  He’s not jerking you around.  He’s shaking loose false ideas you have about him and about his Body the Church in union with the bishops and Peter.
Everytime I hear a pronouncement from Francis I shudder and realize that we have a socialist nutcase in charge.
We don’t.  We have a Catholic with an intensely strong evangelistic and pastoral charism articulating Catholic teaching just like his predecessors.  Everything you need to know about him is summed up in the words, “He has preached good news to the poor.”  Nothing he has said is incompatible with the Church’s teaching.  Most of it is a rehash of things JPII and B16 said.  It’s just that you didn’t notice it.  To wit:

In Wilhelmine Germany, too, Catholic groups felt closer to democratic socialism than to the rigidly Prussian and Protestant conservative forces. In many respects, democratic socialism was and is close to Catholic social doctrine and has in any case made a remarkable contribution to the formation of a social consciousness.” – Pope Benedict XVI
I rue the day when not too far off the Synod on the Family will pronounce gay marriages / families as something worthwhile and receive the blessing of the church.
You are worried about phantoms.  The Church cannot alter the sacraments.  The most that may happen is that the Church will face the fact that Caesar has decided to pretend that there is such a thing as gay marriage and that people involved in such arrangements require some form of pastoral care. Would you rather the Church simply reject them and their children?  Christ comes to call not the righteous, but sinners.  So that’s not an option.  The desire of some Catholics to cut people off from the very opportunity of grace is as old as Donatism.  The Church as a fortress and an engine of vengeance is not the gospel.  She is bound to seek the lost.

Part of the problem is that people have no idea what this Synod is about.  It is, like all conciliar actions, a time when the Church “holds herself in suspense” as Bp.  Robert Barron puts it, and makes up her mind about things.  It is supposed to hear from all sides so that it can sift wheat from chaff.  The pope did something similar when drafting Humanae Vitae, consulting theologians who urged him to ditch the Church’s ancient tradition about artificial contraception.  He declined to do so.
What this come down to is a test of your trust, not in Francis, but in Jesus Christ’s promise that the Holy Spirit will guide the Church into all truth.  It is He, not Francis, who is the soul of the Church.
Anyway, my faith has been shaken.   Please pray for me to recover the certitude I once did in the teachings of the Church.
May God our Father hear the prayer of Paul for you through Christ our Lord:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fulness of God.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, to him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.
Faith means “you stay”.  That’s really it.  When the disciples’ faith was shaken they turned to Christ and said, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  It is Christ who remains the source and summit of our faith, not our false ideas, not the pope, and above all, not ourselves. :)  Don’t despair.  Stay, and see what Jesus is going to do in you and in our holy Church.


Gene said...

Well, Shea's spin and rationalization is about as good as anyone else's. But, essentially, he is saying we should find a way to rationalize and accept ANY moral outrage and passively accept any programs to change the nature of the Church's pastoral practice or theological direction. Is there a line anywhere? Is there a limit to what believing Catholics are supposed to accept? If so, where is it? If not, then what the Hell?

Julian Barkin said...

Definitely sounds like some of the people who post here of your most frequent fliers. They also don't seem to care what they post and gloat, accusing you of being pathetic and blaming you, if their writings make you feel like being in despair, though they cause the sin willingly. Yet they don't want to take a hike and leave the church, knowing it's necessary for salvation. Such hypocrisy when they hate it so much.

Anonymous said...

An interesting commentary from Damian Thompson from the Spectator blogs referring to the interview given to Scalfari by Pope Francis:

"We’re two and a half years into this pontificate. But it’s only in the past month that ordinary conservative Catholics, as opposed to hardline traditionalists, have started saying that Pope Francis is out of control.

Out of control, note. Not ‘losing control’, which isn’t such a big deal. No pontiff in living memory has awakened the specific fear now spreading around the church: that the magisterium, the teaching authority vested in Peter by Jesus, is not safe in his hands.

... The synod ended messily, with a document that may or may not allow the lifting of the communion ban in special circumstances. Both sides thought they’d won — and then the Pope, in the words of one observer, ‘basically threw a strop’.

In his final address, Francis raged against ‘closed hearts that hide behind the church’s teachings’ and ‘blinkered viewpoints’, adding that ‘the true defenders of doctrine are not those who uphold its letter but its spirit’.

The implication was clear. Clergy who wholeheartedly supported the communion ban were Pharisees to Francis’s Jesus. The Pope was sending coded insults to at least half the world’s bishops — and also, it seemed, giving priests permission to question teaching on communion and divorce.

One priest close to the Vatican was appalled but not surprised. ‘You’re seeing the real Francis,’ he said. ‘He’s a scold. He can’t hide his contempt for his own Curia. Also, unlike Benedict, this guy rewards his mates and punishes his enemies.’

Clergy don’t normally refer to the Holy Father as ‘this guy’, even if they dislike his theology. But right now that’s one of the milder conservative descriptions of Francis; others aren’t printable in a family magazine."

I certainly do wonder if the erratic nature of what is happening in this papacy is a direct result of his reported ill health - which, although denied, seems to me to be increasingly likely.

Anonymous said...

If I hear Alexander VI brought up one more time........! Let's be clear Alexander VI had grevious PERSONAL sin like every other human being. But he NEVER compromised the doctrine of the Church. He knew he lived an immoral life yet he would never have dreamed of saying it is an act of mercy to grant Holy Communion to active adulterers.....because that is a betrayal of Christ. A pope having personal sin is very very different from a pope who REFUSES to teach and uphold the Catholic Faith. They are 2 entirely different things.

Marc said...

"But Francis has not, in fact, said or done anything heterodox with respect to the Faith. . . ."

This is not true.

Julian, can you provide some examples to illustrate your comment?

Gene said...

Julian, ol' buddy, if someone's writings on an internet blog make you feel like you are in despair, then your faith is pretty brittle. Take a trip back through the Psalms, for starters.

Anonymous said...

By your fruits you shall know them...and these are the fruits of Francis.

I'm not sure how much longer Shea and others can keep pulling off this extreme hyper ultra-montanists charade, but they are looking more and more dumb, them and Church Militant TV have lost a lot of credibility with me, and I'm no super traditionalist. But this papacy has been and continues to be a disaster of epic proportions. Francis is going to have a very harsh judgment in my opinion, the confusion that he has knowingly sown, and make no mistake, he knows what he's doing, has probably let countless souls to Hell just in the past 2 years from his promulgation of "unofficial" error, and he has done this, just ask anyone at St. Bland's suburban parish.

One good thing has come out of this, I think it has woken a lot of people up to just how big the fight in the Church truly is, and it has pushed me into the nearest TLM parish and out of the Novus Ordo parish that's down the street from me.

George said...

God has given us participation in His Holy work.

As the Blessed Virgin said at Fatima,"Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to Hell because they have no one to make sacrifices and pray for them." God will not be outdone in generosity because He is Love, Mercy and Generosity itself. We know in life that it is possible for a person to pay part of, or even to pay all of someone else’s debt, or to have that debt forgiven either in part or in full. With indulgences, which is God's generous gift to us through His Holy Church, it is possible to have the debt of our trangressions forgiven, either in part or in full, and to have the punishment due for such transgressions remitted. Likewise, it is possible for the merits of our sufferings and prayers to be applied not just to ourselves, but to others to to help secure their salvation, for them to receive from God the grace to realize their sinfulness, and that with this realization, that a conversion of heart takes place which will then result in repentance, atonement, and corrective action. God not only wants us to relieve the suffering of others, but for our good and the good of others, to willingly accept and embrace suffering and offer it to Him in reparation, and so co-operate with Him in His salvation of the world. It is possible for our pain and suffering on earth to remit some or all of our temporal punishment in purgatory.This is only possible because value is imparted to our sufferings and good acts by Christ’s redemptive Suffering and Death and through our own co-operation with the merits thereof whereby we participate in helping bring ourselves and others to salvation. It is all due to God's grace that we have a relationship with Him that is not passive, but participatory. It is out of God's Mercy and Love that in His plan for us we are to be more than passive receptors of His grace. Does not God love us? Does He then not know that we want to be useful to Him and contribute in His good work, not for His benefit, but for our own? Would He desire that we be no more than like cattle out in the field, who absorb the sunlight of His Divine love and grace? To be Christlike is not just to care about our own relationship to God and in just our own salvation, but to care for and be solicitous for others as well.

Jusadbellum said...

I'm going to make two affirmations: The enlightenment is an anti-Gospel/anti-Church human socio-political endeavor and Christendom being lost has been a devastating loss not just to Catholicism but to the world.

A few more affirmations or notes:

Politics is downhill from culture. Culture is based on and built around whatever maximum value or idol or god (or GOD) a people happens to worship as the source and summit of all their aspirations. Thus in pursuit of this maximum good people will organize their political laws and social rules so that worship of this maximum good will be easier and not believing/not worshipping it will be harder.

The so-called "enlightenment" was about rejecting Jesus Christ as God and hence sweeping away the role of the Church and the moral vision of Christendom for the sake of an atheistic, materialistic, and hedonistic vision of reality and human flourishing.

Thus ANYTHING that promotes godlessness and immorality is praised as "progress" inasmuch as it leads away from worship of God and obedience to His commands and blessings.

The enlightenment is a project of a hundred disparate groups, unions, factions, conspiracies, parties, and movements: many are at war with one another but all take as a given that "progress" and "enlightenment" mean abandoning the classic values and virtues of Christendom and Christ. It's an article of faith that the old was bad and dark and enslaving while the new is good, and light and liberating.

It's an article of faith that rejecting Christ and Christendom is the ONLY path to happiness and human flourishing (all the evidence to the contrary be damned and suppressed ruthlessly).

Thus in the post-Enlightenment, post French Revolutionary period of the early 1800's almost all ruling oligarchies and states in Europe had long since rejected Christ's Kingship and the Church's role in directing society and substituted these secular aims and presuppositions. Thus POLITICS were increasingly about creating this materialistic utopia not leading people towards holiness.

And so we come to "Christian socialism". If, as Mark Shea and others have opined, this political movement was close to Catholic social teaching, why, pray tell, did it only lead to further and further social and cultural loss of souls in the name of various "progressive" innovations? Poverty was institutionalized. The education of youth, the care of widow and orphans was nationalized and increasingly run by secular agents according to secular guidelines. The anti-Catholic CULTURE increasingly fed an anti-Catholic POLITICS.

John Nolan said...

Jan, the upside of this is that Francis's utterances (which are becoming more bizarre by the day and are without precedent in a Pontiff, both in content and in the manner in which they are communicated) are making it more and more likely that the next conclave will elect someone entirely different.

Bergoglio's elevation seems to be a classic example of the Peter principle - that in large organizations people are promoted to one level above their competence and then go on to fail. After a mere two-and-a-half years the failure of this pontificate is all too evident.

Marc said...

John, I don't think that Francis is failing at all -- I think he is accomplishing precisely what he wants to accomplish and what the people who sought his election were hoping he'd accomplish.

I think we are beyond the time when we can act like Francis isn't personally accountable for these machinations. Not only is he accountable, he has been staggeringly effective in putting his programme into action.

I was thinking this morning about what he's done officially, and I came up with this incomplete list: enshrined a climate change agenda, railed against capitalism as he perceives it, undercut marriage and favored individual evaluations thereof, and suggested decentralization of the Church as a whole, suppressed a Latin Mass religious order, appointed very liberal bishops and deposed conservative bishops.

He's done more in 2.5 years than most popes ever accomplish.

Anonymous said...

The "failure" of the papacy is spoken of only in traditionalist circles, by traditionalist commentators, or by traditionalist academics.

That says all that we need to know.

Jusabellum said...

Americans need to break out google or Wikipedia (yeah, I know, I know) and go country by country in Europe from 1800 to the present day. If one's political movement or faction or party is not just "close" to Catholic social teaching, but actually helpful to not just the teaching but the POINT OF THAT TEACHING (WHICH IS TO LEAD SOULS TO LOVE JESUS AS LORD..) then shouldn't we expect to see such fruits in that country's culture and thus in its politics?

I would think so. I would think for example, that IF the Democratic Party in the USA was more in line with Catholic social teaching than say, the GOP, and IF the Democratic Party had the chance to have monopoly control of an entire state or major city for 2 generations (to give their policies enough time to penetrate the culture...) we would reasonably expect to see the local culture reflect the values and virtues of Catholic Christianity.

If that's not a fair assumption, then what would be the point of praising a political group for being "close to Catholic social teaching"? If there's no measurable impact on culture and politics for a group adopting one's theologically informed values... how can one glibly continue to suggest that that political movement is an ally or vehicle of living out one's faith?

The Europe of today is in every measurable way in terminal decline with respect to Catholic Christianity (writ large - there are some remnant pockets but they aren't enough to stop what's coming). So 200 years of Catholics being involved in various political parties called "social democrats" or Catholic socialists or whatever have accomplished what, exactly, for the sake of Christ and Christendom?

Ditto in our country: if one's political ideology's very published party platform includes the promotion of 4 intrinsic evils (abortion, euthanasia, embryonic killing research, sodomy), of what advantage might that party have for Catholicism or Christendom (*which alone leads the poor out of poverty both material and spiritual)?

Wouldn't one expect to see places like Detroit, Baltimore, DC, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Atlanta full of healthy marriages, families, and communities, with world-class infrastructure, schools, and safe streets given the 50+ years of total monopoly control by this particular "close to Catholic social teaching" political party if it did indeed mirror or serve the values we hold dear as Catholics?

If instead one cannot see - after 50+ years of complete control - any PROGRESS among the people towards worship of Christ and growth in the values and virtues of Christendom, in what way can we continue to insist that this political party is in fact our ally and not are antagonist?

Anonymous said...

Shea is arguing in the face of almost universal agreement that we have a mess in the Church created by our self-declared mess-maker Pope Francis.

Encouraging questioning of the sacramental value of the marriage bond by Cardinals Danneels, Kasper et all, is a concrete subversion of the deposit of faith. Of course, the Holy Spirit is not responsible for this happening. Furthermore, it is not false expectation that Catholics including the Holy Father would die to uphold the truths for which so many saints and sinners died over 2000 years. It is not false expectation at all.

But it is false expectation on Shea's part that all will be well if only under secular pressure from evil agents inside and outside the Church we agree to go against the words of Jesus and the fathers of the Church regarding marriage.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree with Marc. As it concerns his vision of the Church being merciful and going out to the world and caring for the wounded in its variety of expressions, Pope Francis is successful. I think too, he was elected to clean up the mess of the Vatican and this has only begun and that's why there is a bit of rebellion concerning the bank and power-plays, but this is separate from the pastoral plan of the pope.

He is autocratic. Traditionalists and conservative like this attribute in popes when it serves their vision of things but are fear struck when it serves the theologies of the more progressive in the Church, the "spirit" of Vatican II.

They had hoped Pope Benedict would have been like Pope Francis with his agenda. Rather Benedict, the truly humble pope, simply proposed for the bishops to decide. It seems that the cardinals at the Conclave voted against most of his proposals for the Church or at least might have thought that theologically Francis would continued Pope Benedict's legacy but be a better administrator to get the out of control curia back in line. I don't know though.

Somehow, Pope Francis at his first homily in the Sistine Chapel said we have to move forward. I think he is doing that on some things but on so many things that are dear to conservatives and orthodox Catholics he appears to be turning the clock back to the period of time of Pope Paul VI, erasing the great and heroic work of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict. This is tragic.

Gene said...

Anonymous at 9:47: That is because traditionalists are the only ones who give a crap. All the rest of you think it is cool. You guys better go and try on some asbestos casual wear for upcoming events...

Anonymous said...

I too see the enlightenment as the source of most of our problems. and a note to Mark Shea: Christ came not to call the righteous but sinners TO REPENTANCE!!!

Jusadbellum said...

What does "move forward" mean? Against what backdrop or in what context?

That's the wishy-washy language of progressives (which are nothing of the sort!) to presume that ANY change is ipso facto "good"....that any novelty, modification, or radical break from the past must axiomatically be a step towards some always undefined end goal of human flourishing (or else, we presume it's about HUMAN and not demonic flourishing).

Seriously - ask the next person you hear who says "well, it's a step in the right direction" to spell out for you what exactly their idea of the 'end state goal' looks like so we'd know when we 'arrive'.

Paint the picture of the sexual, social, political, and economic utopia towards which all our progressives are leading us. What would the average day in the life of a Utopian look like and how might that differ from the lifestyle of farm animals being fattened for the slaughter?

Gene said...

Well, Jusad, the liberal Utopia would differ from the life style of farm animals in that farm animals will only breed with their own species, whereas lib/progressives believe in breeding with anything or anybody anywhere; farm animals do not foul their own nests as liberals do by destroying the very culture which gave them birth and the freedom they have turned to license; farm animals do not abort their young; farm animals are loyal and appreciative to those who feed and care for them; farm animals do not produce as much manure as lib/progressives; both male and female farm animals are better groomed than the average lib, and farm animals smell better.

Jusadbellum said...

Alexis de Tocqueville argued from historical documents that the average French serf of the 13th century had more freedom and a more economically secure life than the average French citizen of the post-Revolutionary period.

His evidence was to compare documents from the same town written 500 years apart.

In the 13th century if the townsfolk needed to repair the bridge over the local stream, they just took the initiative, held a meeting, assembled the wood and stone and built it within weeks. In the 18th century, given the bureaucratization of society, the centralized planning and control mechanisms, they needed to send a petition to Paris. YEARS later the 'experts' would get around to coming to assess the situation. YEARS later funding would be provided. YEARS later the bridge would be built - after countless documents, fees, licenses, reviews, paper-pushing, busy-bodying, etc.

He also reviewed relative poverty rates and found the serf of the 13th century Feudal France had more property, more stable living conditions, and more freedom of movement than "revolutionary" citizens half a millennium later who was on the public pension or dole in an inflationary economic state that ate up savings, in a bureaucratic, licensing and permit reality that also cost him money for no actual advantage.

So was it "progress" to let go of de-centralized Christendom and embrace secularist, central planned materialism?

In the 13th century, marriage and family was stable. By the 18th, divorce and concubinage was rampant.

So by actual quantifiable measurements what our secular elites have pointed to as "progress" is actually regress. The sexual and socialist revolutions have been a great devolution, a great cultural and spiritual REGRESSION. Only our technology is advancing; everything else is in free fall.

Marc said...

Father, as you say, there are two categories of action that it seems Francis was elected to see about: (1) a mission in the world, and (2) a mission in the Church.

With regard to (1), he has set about imposing a false vision of mercy, and with his upcoming Year of Mercy, he is seeking to solidify that false vision. His mission in the world is not supernatural, but rooted in the championing of temporal social causes. While he himself decried the Church's becoming an NGO, he has set about placing the Church firmly in the realm of providing "social justice" for social justice's sake. As such, his ideas sometimes seem to be in accord with Catholic social teaching, but in reality, they are not since they lack the supernatural ends to which all Catholic social teaching is oriented.

For example, in the current debate about the divorced receiving Communion, we have heard little to nothing about the salvation of these people's souls. They are not being called to repentance to experience the true mercy of God -- they are being called to a temporal action of receiving communion simply for the purpose of receiving communion and not the supernatural end of eternal salvation. Moreover, since these people have been lumped into the amorphous "poor" so "beloved" by Francis, this temporal cause has become yet another idol obstructing the purpose of the Church.

With regard to (2), Francis has spoken about the need for reform, but his actions undermine his words. We cannot but be aware of his continued support for sexual predators among the bishops -- he continues to appoint these people to major sees. And he keeps them close-by to himself in his papal court. In relation to the abuse of children by clerics, the resolution of scandals in the Vatican bank is rather meaningless by any calculation. Still, what has he actually done about any scandal?

As you say, he is autocratic and tyrannical, yet he has not used those characteristics for good. And I don't just mean "good according to Traditionalists." I mean the general idea of good as in deposing predator bishops instead of elevating them up the chain. Much to the shame of the Church, he has not used his mean-spirited totalitarian leanings to stop the bad -- all he has used that for is to impose on the Church his personal and ill-informed thoughts about the climate and economics.

Anonymous said...

Father Mc

Mr. Pentin (NCRegister) reports that Francis was elected to wipe out the progress made by St. John Paul II and prevent the election of Benedict XVI. Mr. Pentin names conspirators who acted and voted in the 2005 and 2013 conclaves, succeeding in the latter conclave that gave us Pope Francis. Some of the conspirators are still active in the Church. It is kind of you to attribute less controversial motives to such people. The conspiracy was in direct disobedience of the conclave rules of Pope St. John Paul who knew what he was doing when writing the rules for electing his successor.

Anonymous said...

Gene - No, you and your Traditionalist buddies are inventing things to worry about. It's called paranoia.

In its mild form paranoia may consist in the well-marked crotchetiness exhibited in persons commonly called “cranks.”

Sound familiar?

Anonymous said...

Father Allan J. MacDonald,

The recent throwing around of the use of mercy is misused in a incorrect, flawed, and wrong use of the word. It is probable that it is being used in a deceitful manner. When Pope Francis and his supporters (Kasper, Daneels, Marx, Wuerl, etc.) repeatedly throw out this word it implies that we should meet the sinners where they are at and tell them that everything is okay and that they should rejoice in their sin and move forward. These clerics deceitfully want us to believe that the sinner will then move forward to embrace church teaching. Of course they know that once they affirm their sins as okay no one will embrace the faith. That is part of their deceit. Another deceitful aspect is that it implies that before Pope Francis the church was rigid, cruel, judgemental and turned people away. That is a BIG INSULT to all the holy and hard working forebears who worked all their lives with the outcasts, the infirm, and wounded.

Jesus example of mercy with the adulterous woman was to forgive her. He met her where she was at but did not leave her there. He commanded here to sin no more. This conversion experience has been repeated for over 2,000 years as people left their miserable vice and sin and became saints. With this example,Francis and company's meaning of mercy would be to tell the adulterous woman that it is too much to expect of her to live a moral life and that adultery is okay and that she is doing nothing wrong.

Sorry, but most of us laity are not that stupid and are not falling for it. It does reveal the stupidity of the clerics who think we will. Also, one who works and swims in the secular world every day, most secularists don't give a hoot about their "mercy". Most sincere people who are in need of mercy also have the holy instinct to know that mercy cannot be given by wolves. We know when we are sinful and no cheerful acknowledgement of the sin will help us or cheer us up.


Gene said...

Anon @12:07: Well, there are sure a lot of intelligent, scholarly, and devout folks inventing stuff and being paranoid. But, I'll take that company over glib jerks and pseudo-Christian liberals who scoff at tradition and worship the secular god of progressivism and self-indulgence. So, go crawl back wherever you came from.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Naturally, I agree with Mr. Shea's main point in this item, i.e., about staying and not focusing too much on the pope.

That said, I am greatly frustrated by Mr. Shea's defensiveness as more and more Catholics raise real questions about how Pope Francis is carrying out his ministry. Mr. Shea either is dismissive, pretends there are no issues, or lumps people in with those critics who are truly paranoid and extreme in their reactions.

Mr. Shea's dismissiveness just won't work anymore. Too many serious Catholics are noticing problems.

Father McDonald has noticed problems. He is not a flake (I know, I've met him!)
Ross Douthat is not a flake.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker is not a flake.
Fr. Z is not a flake. Recall, when Rorate Coeli was calling Pope Francis a heretic within hours of his election, Father Z was speaking very highly of Pope Francis.
Cardinal Burke is not a flake.
The 13 Synod fathers who wrote a private letter with concerns are not flakes.

Lots of very serious people are noticing problems. None of us enjoys this; we want to support and follow the pope wherever he goes. We are trying to do so.

But there are problems. They can't all be attributed to misunderstandings, or bad will on the part of those who misunderstand, or media errors, and what-have-you.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I agree with Fr. Fox. The gut reaction that something is amiss and that there is a desire to go backwards to the messy 1970's is very, very real. But there is only so much we can do and we are powerless in all of this except for the spiritual battle of prayer. I pray that my intuitive reaction to Pope Francis and from the faithful moment of the loggia is wrong or will be corrected.

Anonymous said...

I understand completely, my Faith is being tested as well, Francis seems to care about every religion except his own Roman Catholic faith, now just yesterday he once again scolds Catholic priests and bishops, I for one cannot take this anymore, Francis is driving me away from Rome and towards the S.S.P.X. or Constantinople.

Anonymous said...

Father McDonald forgive me, but there is something wrong with Pope Francis, I cannot be silent about this, please understand. I never hear him teach the Holy Roman Catholic Faith, I have given him the benefit of the doubt but my God enough already. Once again no disrespect but just my feelings Father.

Anonymous said...

"I never hear him teach the Holy Roman Catholic Faith,..." is exactly the kind of paranoia I see.

Anonymous, try these:

"The book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman entrusting them with the task of filling the earth and subduing it, which does not mean exploiting it, but nurturing and protecting it, caring for it through their work." (5/1/13)

"Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in his own image, destined to live for ever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect." (7/17/13)

"Unfortunately, in our own time, one so rich in achievements and hopes, there are many powers and forces that end up producing a culture of waste; and this tends to become the common mentality. The victims of this culture are precisely the weakest and most fragile human beings — the unborn, the poorest, the sick and elderly, the seriously handicapped, et. al. — who are in danger of being “thrown away”, expelled from a system that must be efficient at all costs." (12/7/13)

"I say that politics is the most important of the civil activities and has its own field of action, which is not that of religion. Political institutions are secular by definition and operate in independent spheres. All my predecessors have said the same thing, for many years at least, albeit with different accents. I believe that Catholics involved in politics carry the values of their religion within them, but have the mature awareness and expertise to implement them. The Church will never go beyond its task of expressing and disseminating its values, at least as long as I'm here." (10/1/13)

"Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to free the victims and stop this increasingly aggressive crime which threatens not only individuals but the basic values of society and of international security and justice, to say nothing of the economy, and the fabric of the family and our coexistence." (12/12/13)

"In our catechesis on the Creed, today we consider the Church as the Body of Christ. Through the gift of the Holy Spirit, received in Baptism, we are mystically united to the Lord as members of one body, of which he is the head. The image of the mystical body makes us realize the importance of strengthening our union with Christ through daily prayer, the study of God’s word and participation in the sacraments. Saint Paul tells the Corinthians that the Body of Christ, while one, is made up of a variety of members. Within the communion of the Church, and in union with the Pope and Bishops, each of us has a part to play, a gift to share, a service to offer, for building up the Body of Christ in love. Let us ask the Lord to help us reject every form of divisiveness and conflict in our families, parishes and local Churches. At the same time, let us ask for the grace to open our hearts to others, to promote unity and to live in harmony as members of the one Body of Christ, inspired by the gift of love which the Holy Spirit pours into our hearts." (6/19/13)

If anyone is "not hearing" Pope Francis teach the Holy Roman Catholic Faith it is because that person has chosen not to listen.

JBS said...

I, too, agree with Father Fox. It seems that the people most supportive of the Holy Father are those least supportive of the faith and morals of the Church. For the time being, however, we should assume that the Holy Father is simply employing some pastoral tactics that will eventually bring many sinners into the Church, where they will repent and receive the Lord's sacramental mercy.

But, something still just doesn't feel right.

JBS said...


I think it would be reassuring to hear the Holy Father state clearly that Christ alone saves souls, that there is no salvation outside the Church, and that those souls in a state of mortal sin must repent or perish.

Politics and ecology are temporal concerns.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father McDonald:

Here's another point which, maybe I should make at Mr. Shea's site, but...I'll make it here, if you don't mind.

For quite awhile, I've been pretty quiet about all this. I still haven't written about it on my own blog, because I want to be very careful about how I express myself. This is not something, for example, I would bring out in a homily.

Nevertheless, I think there comes a point when it is necessary to acknowledge, as you say, "something is amiss." Because, otherwise, people who feel it, and know things aren't quite right, will look around for someone who notices it too...

And they will end up with the folks at, say, Rorate Coeli, who I think mostly mean well, but nonetheless have been terribly unfair to the pope, and all too ready to believe the absolute worst. (In fairness: I infer from their items over the past two years that they realize they were unfair and extreme in their negativity toward the pope, and so pulled back for awhile.)

But as much as I hate to say it, but the Rorate folks aren't looking quite as extremely kooky as they did a couple of years ago. (Maybe they are just 80% kooky?) I'm betting their readership has really spiked. No need to wonder why. They and others are all too ready to supply an explanation for what's wrong.

They can't be the only ones who acknowledge a problem.

Nevertheless -- lest there be any misunderstanding -- we must continue to love and support our holy father. Affirm all that we can; pray for him; join with him as much as possible with his initiatives.

JBS said...

The importance of the bishop of Rome in the life of the Church increased considerably with the advent of mass printing. Today, it is the pope who issues: the standard catechism, the liturgical books (with some deference to Eastern rites) and the canonical codes.

Modern communication technologies and practices have further increased the pope's prominence, so that the personality and personal preference of the reigning pontiff are now crucial determinants of the health of Our Lord's Holy Church.

Anonymous 2 said...

For some reason this particular post by Father McDonald only came up on my computer just now. When I read Mark Shea’s column I thought to myself: “Yes, that’s exactly right.” Then I read through the comments, and I thought to myself: “Well, Mark Shea has certainly stirred up a hornets’ nest, hasn’t he? I guess he really was exactly right.”

I have a question: When in its history was the Church ever a_perfect_institution? And this leads to another question: “Given that Holy Mother Church is made up of imperfect and sinful human beings, and despite the workings of the Holy Spirit within her, how_could_we reasonably expect the Church to be a perfect institution? And this then leads to two further questions: Are we guilty sometimes of idealizing the Church and of imagining something that never was nor ever could be in this vale of tears? And when we criticize her flawed servants, is our vision sometimes distorted by the planks in our own eyes?

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. Fox - Were you arrive at a point where you feel is it necessary to write "something is amiss," I think you should write, "I think something is amiss."

Your judgment is just that - YOUR judgment. While it is shared by a small number of traditionalists and right-leaning commentators, it remains an opinion, a prudential judgment.

I would encourage you to keep in mind that when the leader of any group, including a pastor, starts to cast doubts on the head of the organization, it is far more likely that bad will result than good.

Anonymous said...

JBS like:

“Jesus is the gate opening up to salvation, a gate open to everyone.”


“The principal mission of the Church is evangelization, bringing the Good News to everyone.”


“It is not enough to say we are Christians. We must live the faith, not only with our words, but with our actions.”

Anonymous said...

I suppose it’s possible that some people might feel their faith being challenged when they read the insults hurled by the pope at those trying their best to live by the rules Christ has given. But if we really evaluate their concerns then what we’d discover is that the people are not in a faith crisis; rather they are in a papal crisis. I recall reading, I believe on this website, some thoughts that Pope Benedict wrote about how the Holy Spirit might influence the election of a Pope. He knows a bad outcome is possible as it has happened in the past. My faith will never be shaken because of something Francis says or does. I don’t like most of what I hear and read from him and his man made global warming hysteria has already forced me to experience things in the pew that have caused me to get angry.

What I do believe is that the Holy Spirit ensures that I’m not denied the miracle of receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament from a duly ordained Catholic priest regardless of how good or bad he might be.

Anonymous said...

Although some may think Rorate Caeli have been harsh, I don't agree. They had the benefit of comments right at the beginning of Pope Francis' election from people from Argentina who said the Church was in a bad state there under Francis, and that he is tyrannical behind closed doors. Everything that was said has been borne out. Traditionalists who seemed to be singled out first as rosary counters, among other things, sounded the warning. No one listened. Now the tide is turning and even the conservatives realise something is wrong and, according to Damian Thompson, would like to see an end to this papacy. Even the ordinary faithful Catholic in the pew is questioning some of what Francis is saying and, yes, only liberals, who like what is happening, Church Militant and the Opus Dei aren't judging or making comment. They have a bob each way it seems.

One thing I feel is that when this papacy does end and if a conservative is elected again then many liberals will exit the Church. They won't want to go back to the times of St John Paul II the Great and the saintly Benedict. God is in charge. He knows what He is doing. People need to strengthen their own faith, find the best priests they can and hang on because the barque will never falter. We have Christ's promise for that.

Anonymous said...

If anyone would like to read for themselves the comments of a man from Argentina that were posted on the Rorate Caeli blog just days after the election of Pope Francis. They can be found on the link below. Search for the name Lara.

To my mind everything said by this man has unfortunately come true. I remember that Rorate Caeli were absolutely roasted by many commentators at the time but they have been proven right. It has largely been said that if the conservatives had done more at the Council we wouldn't have had the problems that we have had. The conservatives have been guilty of the same thing this time too. So many have been sitting on their hands and saying nothing while the likes of Kasper, Marx and others have been allowed to dominate the conversation and imply that the liberal position on the divorced and civilly remarried and homosexuals receiving Communion should become the norm.

I have personally been at Masses said by Opus Dei priests where they have said "We must tolerate things, even if they are wrong for the sake of unity". And there has been a concerted attempt to shut people down who have spoken out as they should do - admittedly not in an insulting way, but we are bound to say when things are wrong. We can never tolerate wrongdoing for the sake of unity.

Thank God for men like Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal Muller. Without them we would be in an even sorrier state than we are in now. In fact, Bishop Athanasius Schneider thanked Catholic bloggers for their work after the first synod and he said that we must use every means in our power, social media, etc, to oppose these attempts to overturn Church teaching. His is the advice I would follow.

JBS said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh,

If you click on Father Fox's name, you will find the following disclaimer: "What appear to be my opinions expressed herein are, in fact, my opinions, no one else's". Were you under the impression that he believes his opinions to be definitive for the Church?

JBS said...


It's not clear why you've referenced me before your list of quotations.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

JBS - I am under no such impression. Were you under the impression that I think there is some source for definitive teaching other than the Magisterium?

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh,

It was Fr McDonald, not Fr Fox who used the phrase 'something is amiss' and he categorized it as a 'gut reaction' (a feeling or intuitive impression) and not as a matter of fact.

You yourself make sweeping generalizations which are purely speculative without any qualification. Motes and beams, anyone?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Fr. Kavanaugh said:

I would encourage you to keep in mind that when the leader of any group, including a pastor, starts to cast doubts on the head of the organization, it is far more likely that bad will result than good.

Yes indeed. It weighs on my mind.

JBS said...

Father Kavanaugh,

Since it was Father Fox you were admonishing, despite the disclaimer on his profile, I was merely trying to understand your puzzling concern about his post. I have not asked about, or made assertions about, your own definitive sources.

Fr. MIchael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - Fr. Fox made the phrase his own. Fr. Fox said, "Nevertheless, I think there comes a point when it is necessary to acknowledge, as you say, "something is amiss." Because, otherwise, people who feel it, and know things aren't quite right, will look around for someone who notices it too..."

No generalization, sweeping or otherwise.

JBS - You said, "Were you under the impression that he believes his opinions to be definitive for the Church?" I said, "I am under no such impression." And I asked you, "Were you under the impression that I think there is some source for definitive teaching other than the Magisterium?"

John Nolan said...

Fr Kavanaugh, I was referring to your habit of stating your opinions (for example on the value of Latin in the liturgy or the merits of rites in the Western Church other than the Novus Ordo) as if they were self-evident truths; and then insisting pedantically that those with opinions with which you happen to disagree need to qualify all their statements.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

John - Opinions are opinions. I state mine, you state yours. You believe your opinions are correct, I believe mine are. That's how opinions work.

Now, when it comes to what the Church teaches, I cite the sources that indicate what the Church teaches. These are not my opinions. When I copy/paste the Church's teaching on the potential salvation of the un-baptized, I am not propounding my opinion, but the Church's teaching.

In our conversations here, if someone has said, "Nevertheless, I think there comes a point when it is necessary to acknowledge, as you say, "something is amiss." and I respond to that comment; and then, if someone says in response to my comment, "It was Fr McDonald, not Fr Fox who used the phrase 'something is amiss'..."; and I, in response, copy/paste the very words of the person who did, indeed, use a particular phrase, well, I'm not stating opinion, now am I?

John Nolan said...

Fr K, you instructed Fr Fox to preface his opinion with 'I think', since it is an opinion; you then go on to say 'it is shared by a small number of traditionalists and right-leaning commentators' which is an opinion and a tendentious one at that, and yet you don't preface it with 'I think'. My point is that you have a double standard.

'When the leader of any group starts to cast doubts on the head of the organization, it is far more likely that bad will result than good'. Really? Does this apply to the head of Volkswagen? Or Sepp Blatter of FIFA? Is this 'a truth generally recognized' or something you've made up? There is plenty of evidence that would suggest that the opposite is true.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Speaking of double standards, you have asserted, John, "There is plenty of evidence that would suggest that the opposite is true."

Now, John, isn't this one of those "opinions stated as if they were self-evident truths."? It sure seems that way to me. (It may be 100% true, in fact I would say that one could unearth plenty of evidence to support your claim as well as mine.) Of course, it could be something you've made up . . .

But that's not the point. As I said, we all have opinions and we are all free to express them. I happen to like the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright. I will say, in a conversation about Wright's designs, "They are very beautiful!" Now, even though I have not prefaced that by saying, "I think..." one who is not being tendentious in a non-philistinic way is going to think that I have made a statement that everyone must accept as true, as Gospel. Plainly it is an opinion.

When people move into the realm of what the Church teaches, things are different.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

And, John, I did not "instruct" Fr Fox to do anything. Here is what I actually said:

"Fr. Fox - Were you arrive at a point where you feel is it necessary to write "something is amiss," I think you should write, "I think something is amiss."

JBS said...

Father Kavanaugh,

We have too much respect for your wisdom to dismiss your contributions here as mere personal expression.

Gene said...

JBS, What do you mean "we?"

JBS said...


Come on. We all know he's your most favorite person on Earth!

John Nolan said...


The Lone Ranger (surrounded by hordes of hostile Indians):'I guess we're in a spot of trouble here, Tonto'.
Tonto: 'What do you mean "we", paleface?'

It would appear that JBS has a good line in irony.

Fr Kavanaugh,

'There is plenty of evidence that would suggest ...' is a statement of fact. It does not in itself come down on one side or the other. Hence the word 'suggest'. Also, there is a difference between an unfounded opinion and a deduction or inference based on evidence and/or experience.

If the head of an organization appoints and presumably trusts people who later turn out to be crooks, then it is reasonable to question both his motives and his judgement. This applies to presidents, prime ministers, heads of corporations and, yes, popes.

Fr Martin Fox said...

FWIW, I wa not offended by Fr. Kavanaugh's reply.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Fr. Fox - No one was offended by what I said. The reactions, as you know from reading the blog, came simply because "I" said it. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

JBS - To your Nov 6 comment: "Politics and ecology are temporal concerns," I would respond with the following statement from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: "The salvation offered in its fullness to men in Jesus Christ by God the Father's initiative, and brought about and transmitted by the work of the Holy Spirit, is salvation for all people and of the whole person: it is universal and integral salvation. It concerns the human person in all his dimensions: personal and social, spiritual and corporeal, historical and transcendent." (no 38)

Also, I would suggest that concerns you might consider merely "temporal," such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless have, indeed, transcendent ramifications. While this world is passing away, what we do in this world will be with us in eternity.

It is not wise to see

Gene said...

Anonymous, those actions do not actually have what you call "transcendent ramifications." Those ramifications are already done and settled. Our actions, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. are merely the fruits of the elects' life in Christ. God's saving grace in Christ is not predicated upon human action. We are simply being obedient to God's will and command in an already decided salvation history. Politics and ecology are earthly concerns that, while important to us and while Christians must make some decisions regarding them, there is no theologically correct choice or belief regarding either ecology or politics. In the overall scheme of salvation history, they mean nothing. This world is indeed passing away. The quote you offer says nothing about either. You are merely interpreting it to mean ecological and political concerns. Oh, and salvation is indeed offered to all, but it is not chosen by all.

Anonymous said...

Gene - No, not all accept the gift of salvation.

Those who reject it make that choice by not feeding the hungry, not clothing the naked, not visiting those in prison, not comforting the sorrowing, etc.

Those who reject the gift also make that choice by failing to be good stewards of our natural resources, by failing to reject economic systems that cause oppression and poverty, by failing to reject consumerism and materialism.

Yes, choices such as there must assuredly have transcendent ramifications.

Marc said...

It is an interesting paradox that everyone seems to agree that one can lose one's salvation through works while insisting that one cannot gain one's salvation through works.

Marc said...

Oh, and according to Fr. Kavanuagh's logic, all monastics are rejecting salvation. Isn't your brother a Trappist, Fr. K?

JBS said...


I think we can all agree with the spiritual importance of performing the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, but how does one reject an economic system?

JBS said...


I've just learned that the SSPX is seeking donations to complete a school for poor students in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. Do you see any problems with supporting this effort?

Gene said...

Anonymous, you have a very strange theology. And, please show me in Scripture where it says anything about ecology or economic systems. You sound like a need to re-read the CCC on socialism and communism. Oh, and people reject the gift by not believing works, or the lack thereof, are not determinative of salvation. This is theology 101. Take a look at the countries and people under socialist and communist governments if you want to see poverty and oppression.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Marc - My brother-in-law was an ex-Trappist. He died about 8 years ago. I'm not sure what you're referencing about monastics and salvation...

Anonymous said...

It begins with two concepts: The Universal Destination of Good, and the Common Good

Nature, the work of God's creative action, is not a dangerous adversary. It is God who made all things, and with regard to each created reality “God saw that it was good” (cf. Gen 1:4,10,12,18,21,25). At the summit of this creation, which “was very good” (Gen 1:31), God placed man. Only man and woman, among all creatures, were made by God “in his own image” (Gen 1,27). The Lord entrusted all of creation to their responsibility, charging them to care for its harmony and development (cf. Gen 1:26-30). This special bond with God explains the privileged position of the first human couple in the order of creation.

“The modern era has witnessed man's growing capacity for transformative intervention. The aspect of the conquest and exploitation of resources has become predominant and invasive, and today it has even reached the point of threatening the environment's hospitable aspect: the environment as ‘resource' risks threatening the environment as ‘home'. Because of the powerful means of transformation offered by technological civilization, it sometimes seems that the balance between man and the environment has reached a critical point”. (John Paul II, Address to participants in a convention on “The Environment and Health“ (24 March 1997), 2: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 9 April 1997, p. 2.)

“If humanity today succeeds in combining the new scientific capacities with a strong ethical dimension, it will certainly be able to promote the environment as a home and a resource for man and for all men, and will be able to eliminate the causes of pollution and to guarantee adequate conditions of hygiene and health for small groups as well as for vast human settlements. Technology that pollutes can also cleanse, production that amasses can also distribute justly, on condition that the ethic of respect for life and human dignity, for the rights of today's generations and those to come, prevails”. (Ibid)

Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of humanity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good,[John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, 40: AAS 83 (1991), 843.] destined for all, by preventing anyone from using “with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate — animals, plants, the natural elements — simply as one wishes, according to one's own economic needs”.[John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 34: AAS 80 (1988), 559.] It is a responsibility that must mature on the basis of the global dimension of the present ecological crisis and the consequent necessity to meet it on a worldwide level, since all beings are interdependent in the universal order established by the Creator. “One must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the ‘cosmos' ”.[Ibid]

Jenny said...

Re Marc: "It is an interesting paradox that everyone seems to agree that one can lose one's salvation through works while insisting that one cannot gain one's salvation through works."

Very interesting comment that has plagued me personally over the years. I would love to see priestly follow up on this. Thank you

Gene said...

Anonymous, earthly concerns are given very little priority in Holy Scripture. The New Heaven and New Earth will be created by God, not Greenpeace or the Sierra Club. The Church should take a position on our relationship with the creation and, yes, good stewardship of the earth is a desirable thing. But, it has no ultimate meaning, is not determinative of salvation, and there is no theologically correct answer or response to the conflicting political or scientific opinions on the subject. All that stuff JP said is nice and I pretty much agree, but it isn't theology and it isn't important in the overall meaning of salvation history. That is about all I have to say on the matter. So, hug your trees, count your dolphins, don't buy anything ivory, and only use organic fertilizer on your marijuana patch.

John Nolan said...

'The reactions came simply because "I" said it.'

Could there be a better example of a)solipsism and b)paranoia?

Anonymous said...

Gene - Catholics believe what the Bible says not because the Bible says it, but because the Church teaches it to be true.

The Biblical basis for care for the environment is pretty clear - the dignity of the human person, the universal destination of goods, and the primacy of the Common Good. What we do to the environment has an impact on us. When we degrade our own environments, we suffer, our dignity is attacked. When we degrade the environments of others (consumerism), they suffer and human dignity is attacked.

Yes, destruction of the environment is sinful. And it is our sins that separate us from God and from others. That separation can transcend this life and be the basis for our judgment in the life to come.

John Nolan said...

'Destruction of the environment' doesn't actually mean much in either secular or religious terms. Man created his own environment and didn't simply react to the wilderness around him. He felled trees to create a clearing for agriculture and used the same trees as fuel and building material. The preservation of a Constable landscape might be argued on aesthetic grounds but that is the way we look at it - it is essentially man-made and artificial.

Gene said...

Anonymous, you still do not get, never mind.,

Anonymous said...

Man did not create forests or rivers, gold deposits or rubber trees, or tidal marshes. We did not create the coral reefs, the 12,000 caddis fly species, or the Ganges river dolphin.

These are not man-made, artificial things. When we choose to abuse the natural world - clear-cutting forests, mining gold without concern for toxic runoff, mindlessly filling in salt marshes - we are disrespecting the Creator and those whose lives are negatively impacted by these human actions. If our actions lead to coral bleaching, to the destruction of waterways in which caddis flies pupate, or to the disappearance of the Ganges dolphin, we have not been the good stewards of creation that we are called to be.

When we fail to "maintain an attitude of prudence and attentively sift out the nature, end and means of the various forms of applied technology" (John Paul II, Meeting with employees of the Olivetti workshops in Ivrea, Italy (19 March 1990), 4: L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 26 March 1990, p. 7.) we neglect our proper God-given role in the cosmos. This is sinful behavior and we will be judged accordingly.

Gene said...

In so far as our irresponsible behavior harms others, of course it is sinful...just like any other sin. There is nothing special about so-called environmental sin. If we choose to foul our best. It is our own stupidity. There is nothing significant about this theologically other than it is just another of fallen mankind's sins. There are far worse sins, however, like unbelief, like leading the faithful away from true worship and belief into Gaia worship, lying about global warming and ecology, which harms others by restricting economic growth and productivity, and supporting Marxist and collectivist governments which are unproductive, restrictive of human freedom, and oppressive.

Anonymous said...

To suggest that there is nothing theologically significant about sin is simply false.

When a chemical company intentionally ignores industry standards and operates an unsafe manufacturing plant, and chemical spill at that plant kills hundreds or thousands of people and sickens others, this sin, too, is one of the worst. It shows utter disregard for the dignity of humans and shows that the company has put its profits ahead of the health and safety of the people living near the plant.

Gene said...

Now, Anonymous, is that what I sure you aren't Kavanaught? You are deliberately misreading my words, which means you are either illiterate or treacherous. Which is it?

Anonymous said...

"There is nothing significant about this theologically other than it is just another of fallen mankind's sins."

The theological significance of sin - any sin - is that it has transcendent ramifications. It is by our actions - sins of commission and sins of omission - that we will be judged.

Gene said...

Anonymous, are you really that dense? There is nothing in that sentence that says sin has no theological significance. It simply says that there is nothing unique about environmental is just another in a long list of mankind's sins. Now, for a quick Christology is by Christ's grace, his atoning Sacrifice that we will be judged...if we are believers....if our priorities are straight...if we believe in Him who was sent. Then, these sins of omission and commission are "not imputed to us." This is based on the "transcendent ramification" of the Incarnation and Sacrifice, of Christ's rising from the dead to overcome sin once and for all. This ramification, as you call it, was decided from all eternity...Christ's elect were chosen in Him from eternity, and we are talking a battle already won. Salvation history was decide from the beginning. We can, of course, reject this and go to Hell, but it does not have ramifications for salvation history. Our sins of omission and commission do not compel God's good and perfect will. The transcendent ramifications of sin took place in the Garden and in the Incarnation and Crucifixion. (See, Augustine; "City of God," and Paul; "Romans.")

Anonymous said...

"Belief" is not an act of the will with no external evidence. If a person says "I believe," but does not act on that belief, his words are meaningless and will not merit salvation. We are judged on our actions.

Our actions do not compel God's will, but they are the concrete evidence that we either accept or reject God's will. And is is our actions that will form the basis of God's judgment when we stand before His throne to give an accounting of our lives.

Gene said...

Anonymous, I agree with that.

Anonymous said...

Here are the things the Catholic Church teaches about predestination and the doctrines surrounding it:

•God is the source of all good. God does not create evil (which isn’t really a “thing”, but rather an absence of a good). God cannot do an evil act.

•God allows humans to choose to do good or evil. We have free will. It is possible to reject God’s grace. (God knows in advance who will choose good and who will choose evil, but this foreknowledge is not forecause.)

•God’s knowledge is infinite. There is nothing He does not know.

•God wills (desires) that all be saved.

•God always acts first. His grace comes and then we are empowered by it to be able to respond.

•Even after saving grace is received, we can reject it later.

Gene said...

Anonymous, this business about evil being just "less good" or an absence of good is an Augustinian/Neo-Platonic problem that was never satisfactorily resolved either by Augustine or by later theologians. Denying the reality of evil is a form of heresy itself because it implies that Christ's Incarnation and Sacrifice were redundant or unnecessary. This is an old theological issue, usually resolved in sophomore philosophy courses. Platonism/Neo-Platonism, by the way, is incompatible with Christian theology, even if it was used by analogy as a tool for understanding. I agree with your other points.

Anonymous said...

Evil is not "less good." It is the absence of some good - a good that should "be there."

Lying is evil because truth should be found. Abortion is evil because the good of life is destroyed. Destruction of the environment is evil because the good of respect for God's creation is not there, with the attendant absence of respect for those whose lives are disrupted or destroyed.

Gene said...

You are chopping logic. Evil is a positive and active will in the world. It cannot be attributed to some negative ontology. Scripture makes very clear that evil is an active force in the world, not the mere absence of something. Also, in your Platonic scheme, if something is good, then it necessarily cannot be absent. Good equals truth and beauty in the Platonic world view. Existence is a necessary attribute of these things, else they would not be good. So, there is on good that should be there. It is either there and good, or it is not good. This is why Platonism breaks down as a theological aid. The Church believes that evil is a real presence. Else, why exorcisms, Baptisms, and all the rejection of Satan and all his works? Was Jesus just dreaming in the Wilderness?

Gene said...

BTW, I had a professor who said that "theodicy" was a contraction of the two words "theological" and "idiocy." Trying to justify the ways of God to man is presumptuous, prideful, and...well, dumb.

Anonymous said...

Good behavior does not exist until someone acts. This "good" does not exist on it's own without an actor carrying it out.

We have evil and we have Evil. The latter is a real presence indeed, no doubt about that. But the good and the evil that are done by humans - the moral/immoral choices we make - don't exist until they are realized in human acts.

George said...

Evil is done when an act is committed which is contrary to the will of God. If one commits a mortal sin, it is gravely evil. The commission of a venial sin is an evil act which is less grave. Satan and his minions are evil incarnate. Being in the position they once occupied, so close in proximity to God, their disobedience imputed to them the the greatest degree of guilt and evil. Their definitive, prideful act of disobedience to God, redounded to their being cast far from the position of holiness they once enjoyed to it's very opposite. It is Satan and his followers and agents who are the principalities and powers which we, as followers of Christ, are charged with the task of doing spiritual battle with. It is they who are behind the evil so predominant in the world today which is causing much death and destruction and contributing to so many souls being lost.