Sunday, November 22, 2015


Admittedly the off-the-cuff speech Pope Francis gave on Saturday did not seem to be linear or at all coherent at times or maybe it was just the translator who were not these things?

But the Holy Father is being chastised by guess who? Of course the right wingnuts that nitpick at everything His Holiness says or doesn't say. No wonder the divorce rate is so high. When spouses do this kind of senseless nitpicking with each other, we all know where that leads.

I suspect that is why some who comment here think divorce and remarriage is great after a truly sacramental marriage to up to two additional marriages although they draw the line at three! Of course it is to laugh. At least in the Catholic Church the annulment procedure declares there never was a sacramental marriage which thus allows a Catholic to marry again in the Church. There is no such decree in the Orthodox Church, it simply allows a second or third marriage in the Church (no more though, they draw the line on a 4th marriage that is adulterous, thank God) despite the fact that the first marriage has never been declared null. Thus there is institutional approval of adultery a novelty never experienced in the full Communion of the Catholic Church under Saint Peter and his successors.

In the south, our Catholic schools can be almost half or majority non-Catholic. We see our schools as evangelizing our young and their parents or guardians. We do no proselytize which means we do not try to convince our young people or their parents to become Catholic by denigrating their religious affiliation or suggesting that they should convert no matter what for the good of their soul if the "no matter what" is a form of coercion on our part. 

In fact in the south the majority of our marriages are mixed marriages. The Church by canon law requires that each partner respect the conscience of the other. We ask that no pressure be placed upon the other to convert or change their religious affiliation. Converting to Catholicism is something that the person himself should want to do because he or she is attracted to the Catholic Faith, feels called by God and no one has denigrated him or her for not being Catholic.

With our young people in elementary and high school, we in fact do not allow them to convert to Catholicism unless a parent has made that decision to do so and is bring their child or children with them into the true Faith.

We do, however, evangelize. Non Catholics must take religion Class, attend Mass, know how to genuflect before the Blessed Sacrament, make the Sign of the Cross and learn the Rosary.  Parents know this up front and thus have fully agreed to allow their children to be exposed to Catholicism in this way and to be evangelized by us.

Our non Catholic Children, though, are not allowed to receive Holy Communion. Forcing Holy Communion on anyone who not a Catholic is an act of proselytizing!

Rorate Caeili translates some of the Holy Father's off-the-cuff statements this way in order to be snarky about what His Holiness actually said:

Vatican City:  Never proselytize in schools.  Pope Francis said this in the Paul VI Audience Hall to seven thousand participants at the World Congress on Catholic Education organized by the Congregation in charge of Catholic Education.

"Christian education --  the Pope says  -- is not only teaching catechism and proselytizing. Never proselytize in schools. Christian education is bringing up the young in complete reality with human values and one of these [values] is transcendence. Today there is a tendency to neo-positivism, which is education in immanent things, in countries of Christian tradition as well as those of pagan tradition. We are closed to transcendence but closure is of  no use in education.”

Admittedly this translation into English of the Pope's Italian is very, very poor. The translator is to be castigated! I doubt that it sounded this bad in Italian. Be that as it may, this is what Pope Benedict said about Proselytizing:

In his first encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict stated:

Charity, furthermore, cannot be used as a means of engaging in what is nowadays considered proselytism. Love is free; it is not practiced as a way of achieving other ends. But this does not mean that charitable activity must somehow leave God and Christ aside [Deus Caritas Est 31].

Jimmy Akins at Catholic Answers says the following:

This is something I’ve written about before. In a relatively recent sense of the term, “proselytization” refers to using inappropriate tactics to get someone to convert, rather than allowing them to make a free choice for Christ.

The inappropriate tactics can take a number of forms, including deception, coercion, emotional manipulation, threats, and even bribery.

An explanation of this usage is found in the 2007 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith titled Instruction on Some Aspects of Evangelization. According to that document:

The term proselytism originated in the context of Judaism, in which the term proselyte referred to someone who, coming from the gentiles, had passed into the Chosen People.
So too, in the Christian context, the term proselytism was often used as a synonym for missionary activity.

More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel; that is, which do not safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person.

So that’s what Pope Francis means when he says that the Church grows by our witness, in words and deeds—rather than through proselytization.


Anonymous said...

Did I read right, Pope Francis said Catholic schools shouldn't be proselytizing? Just what cloud did Pope Francis float down from today? Catholic schools don't even teach young Catholics their faith let alone proselytize. Kids at Catholic schools in my area are even taken by the local Assembly of God Church to learn suitable praise and worship music. No guesses as to where those kids are going to end up.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, the problem is not handing on the faith especially in our institutions of higher learning. Cardinal Wuerl makes this point rather dramatically in his pastoral letter also and calls for a strengthening of Catholic identity especially on the university level.

This is what he wrote:

"When we come to the institutions of the Church--its parishes, schools, universities, charitable organizations, health care facilities and more--thee too must reflect a genuine Catholic identity with visible communion with the Church, both universal and local, and fidelity to Catholic teaching. As Pope Francis has implored, each of these institutions and those involved in their operations must be oriented toward the mission of the Church (Evangelii gaudium,27). The purpose of these entities--and the task of those who work for them, is to lead people to Jesus."

Then he quotes Pope Benedict:

"Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God, who in Jesus Christ reveals his transporting love and truth (Spe salvi, 4)"

Then he writes:

Furthermore, a particular responsibility is incumbent upon the bishop with regard to Catholic institutions and their Catholic identity (Veritatis splendor, 116). His is the responsibility to see that our Catholic institutions are places where the faith permeates the culture. Ours schools, for example, at all levels should provide the environment where revealed truth, reason and charity are engaged in an ongoing effort to shed great light on the human condition. ...

JBS said...

That same Instruction on Evangelization also insists that, "everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith". I think the main problem with some recent speeches and documents on the subject is that they presume a problem we don't face in the USA. The term "proselytism" is unfamiliar to most Americans, and we associate forced conversions with madmen and terrorists. Americans are a people founded in large part on the principal of religious tolerance.

Anonymous said...

V-2 on ecumenism places all Christian sects on par with the Catholic Church. Leaves non-Christians in their religious state because the council teaches that salvation is possible outside of the Catholic Church also. Missionary activities today emphasize material help for needy folks home and abroad. What is no longer important is Jesus' command: "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations...". (Matthew 28:16).


Bernard Fischer said...

The concern is not what Pope Francis said, which as you point out is perfectly fine, but the implications. Does he really think that prosletization is a problem? Are these the same parishes that obsess over abortion and contraception? Are these people pelagian or gnostic or promethian? or do they only exist in his head?

Bernard Fischer said...

So now, after accusing lukewarm schools of prosteletizing, whatever minimal level of religious education will be cut even more. We're back to the felt-banner era of Catholic Education, if we ever really left.

The Egyptian said...

I think I know what he means, waaayyy back in the third grade, 1968 (I'm old) dear Sister Josephine, my teacher, approximately 70 years old and a bit dottie went over the top

( I was taught in a public school but nuns taught the lower grades there, a very Catholic community)

The first Protestant kid I ever met, name of Pat moved in to the community. Dear Sister gave him no peace, mind you she kept record of confession and 1st Friday communion for every student in her grade book. Day after day she quietly hounded him and I quote

"Just because your parents are going to burn in hell you don't have to, you can become a Catholic and they don't have to know, you have to save your soul, I don't want you to burn in hell"

just loud enough for us to hear, Poor kid was in tears some days, his family moved to the next town before Christmas
sure did a lot of good, some understanding and teaching by example would have gone a long way

Gene said...

Well, the Church has done a damned good job of assuring that the culture permeates the Faith.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I think to that Pope Francis is reacting to the situation in South America where full-funded fundamentalist sects proselytize Catholics and win them over by denigrating the Catholic Church and its culture in South America.

Anonymous said...

Protestants in S. America may have a point.


JBS said...


Vatican II does no such thing. The Orthodox Churches are deprived of the "fullness of universality", since this universality requires governance by the Successor of Saint Peter. The Protestant communities are not even considered "churches", since they lack even such basic requirements as valid sacramental orders, which means they cannot even participate in the Sacrifice of the Cross. The CDF provided a good summary of the situation with the Orthodox and the Protestants in its June 29, 2007 "response". The bottom line is that Christ established only one Church, and the Catholic Church alone is fully identifiable with the Church Christ established.

TJM said...

Unfortunately Cardinal Wuerl is a wimp, giving Holy Communion to abortion drooling politicians. I think he's excommunicated himself by his inaction

Victor W said...

Fr McDonald:
You make an interesting point about full-funded fundamentalist sects in South America. But that makes the pope's message even more unsuitable. Most of these are not sects, but Protestant religious organisations very well funded almost exclusively by Americans. So the pope is saying for Catholics not to proselytise whereas he knows full well that nothing will stop the Protestants from doing the same. Does he want all of South America to become Protestant faster? If anything, Catholics should proselytise with even greater zeal, and they need money for this, for the schools, charities, etc. What are American Catholics doing to help the way the American Protestants are?

Anonymous said...

Be careful of those "pious" priests they are scary!! It get worse and worse Ladies and Gentlemen!

Anonymous said...

This is the original aricle, there is nothing wrong with the translation, it's the orginal content that is banal and shallow...

It comes from La Repubblica, Pope Francis' favourite newspaper. The Holy Father speaks regularly to the Editor of this traditionally anti-Catholic anti-Pope newspaper. It used to slaughter both John Paul and Pope Benedict in continuation Mr. Scalfari has now become quite a fan of Pope Francis. But still no conversion in sight. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is working on him.

Today Mr. Scalfari wrote:

(da La Repubblica, 22 novembre)

Wow! isn't that something? Let's hope he converts to Catholicism soon, he is so enthusiastic about Pope Francis.


Anonymous said...


Vatican 2 documents are full of ambiguities that have been exploited by professional ecumenists. Vatican 2 certainly declared that the Catholic church is not the only Church that possesses gospel truth only that the Church subsists most fully in Catholicism.

So, now the only question is just what this definition means. Do Lutherans have a 70 percent and the Catholic 90 percent? What ever one concludes, neither body seem to have the perfect means for salvation. The New Mass, I do not deny its validity, is worship that protestants find acceptable, and why not? (Marty Haugen is not Catholic but he had a very prominent impact how it was implemented).

Most recently the Holy Father visited a Lutheran congregation on Sunday. While there, he all but gave permission for inter communion. Cardinals and Bishops in Germany openly supporting intercommunion at every opportunity. Vatican 2 documents are ignored and Tradition (for example, outside the Church there is no salvation) is violated at will at the highest levels in the Church. I am surprised that any one would argue a point which is so obviously the case in practice.


JBS said...


The CDF response clearly states that one finds "all the elements instituted by Christ in the Catholic Church". To suggest that neither Catholics nor others "seem to have the perfect means for salvation" is material heresy, since the Catholic Church defines herself as possessing all such means. Everyone who knows the Catholic Church to be necessary for salvation must enter into, or remain within, the Catholic Church, as the Second Vatican Council's Lumen Gentium affirms: "whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved".

George said...

"Do Lutherans have a 70 percent and the Catholic 90 percent?"
No, the Catholic Church has 100%-the fullness of the Truth. The teachings of the Church are PARTIALLY embodied in other faiths(belief in Christ, the Trinity etc.) As JBS comments above, the Church possesses the complete means for salvation.

Joe Potillor said...

Well, I think it's a given that conversion should be for one reason, and for one reason only because of Truth. Of course people should not be forced against their will to convert to the Catholic Faith.

I have to agree with Jan, most schools hardly teach the Faith as such, and one can't even begin proselyting, if one doesn't even have the Faith to begin with.

Fr JBS is also correct on the clarifications on the "subsists" problem from the Vatican II documents.

Proselytize at least how many have seen it in action, seems to imply forcing conversions, and if that's what HH thinks it means, then on that point I can agree, we shouldn't force conversions....Of course it's also true sometimes people need a little kick to help them along...and often times people are forced to do things they do not like for whatever reason.

Gene said...

The political terms right and left wing do not apply to the Catholic Church. There are Catholics, who believe the articles of the Creed state literal truths, that Christ rose bodily from the dead and will return in historical time to judge the living and the dead, and that mortal sin places one in danger of eternal damnation...and there are non-Catholics, who believe that the Creed (and the Eucharist) is an aesthetic and literary ritual that binds fans of Jesus in some kind of political solidarity and brotherly love in a social movement toward creating a benign universal government (Heaven) on earth. Non-Catholics remain in the Church and call themselves believers, but they lie and prevaricate about what they believe, using all the same language as true Catholics but meaning something totally different. These people are far more dangerous than outright enemies of the Church, such as Muslims, because they attack us from within using the Faith as a weapon. Nothing, no punishment, no reprisal is too bad for them.

Gene said...

Also, Catholics do fall under the terms "left" and "right" on the political spectrum. It just so happens that most political Leftists/progressives/Dems in the Church fall under the non-Catholic umbrella. There may be some true Catholics who are political Leftists, but they are rare birds and I do not see how they rationalize their political stance with their belief.

Gene said...

I see where the Government is "alarmed" at the incredibly high STD rate among homosexuals...those lovable, cuddly, harmless oddballs that people Hollywood, the media, the Church, and Congress. I suppose that, now, all of us heterosexuals will be required by the Government to go out and contract an STD to even things up.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the Orthodox Church does allow for a second or third marriage. They note that Christ made an exception (justification) for divorce too, in the event of adultery.

JBS said...


That's an excellent summary of the present situation. I'm not sure about the last sentence, but everything else should be taught by good parents to their children, and children should memorize it.

Jusadbellum said...

When a person's culture and religion are under attack, and they feel *and are* on the defensive, it's called "culture war". When a person's culture and religion are on the offense, when it looks like the future belongs to them, it's called "evangelization" (or the Long March, or Historical inevitability, or the coming of the Caliphate, etc.).

What might a 3rd century Roman Pagan have felt about Christians? Probably much the same many feel now about Muslims in Europe: they had more children than the pagans, went joyfully to their deaths or into slavery in the salt mines. There was a sense of optimism and confidence that the Way was unstoppable. "moderates" were thus reinforced by the sense of historic inevitability of Christian triumph to not throw in with the decaying Roman state.

What might a Communist Pole serving the Soviet Union have felt in 1985 with rise of Solidarity and a Polish Pope globe trotting the world attracting the largest crowds in human history? We know what they felt - terror. All the might and pomp and works of the vaunted USSR, all the machinations, infiltrations, and agit-prop of world-wide socialism, communist parties, and 5th columns were coming unglued.

But in each case of triumphant Christendom, the Church's leadership was solid and self-confident in the message and were willing to joyfully die (and thus suffer) rather than negotiate a "3rd way" settlement with the pop culture and secular elites.

Until now. The Church in western countries (and in some Latin American countries) is divided as the seeds planted by the KGB and Frankfurt school have finally borne fruit in a thousand front groups and infiltrated double agents or corrupt cadres sowing chaos, division, and disharmony throughout the "body theologic" of the Church.

The CCHD front groups - almost all of whom are affiliated with Marxist agit-prop in the name of "helping the poor" are perfect examples of this infiltration of the Church by those who want to overthrow both the current secular regime and the Church via morals. Look at all the various and sundry groups under the umbrella of ACORN, all the Left-wing Catholic organizations that gave comfort to the Sandinistas, who praise Cuba and don't get incensed at all about Chinese pollution so bad you can't see many cities due to the persistent smog, but who go nuts when some American coal plant fails to magically attain even higher standards of air quality.

It's very instructive. To the degree we are hamstrung and divided, we are weak and will fall to any group however tiny so long as they are united and focused. But the faith will survive in the "peripheries", in Africa, Asia, and those places where persecutions have burnt themselves out.

Jusadbellum said...

Here's the link pointing out the history of the CCHD and its ongoing relationship with Marxist inspired or Marxist friendly front groups.

Think how much could be done for the poor if the USCCB gave $7 million to the pro-life movement per year! What do these various groups accomplish if not GOTV campaigns for one party only, and allied agitation for ever more federal money and bureaucracy?

Michael Kavanaugh said...

Vatican II did "declare" that the Catholic church is not the only Church that possesses gospel truth only that the Church subsists most fully in Catholicism."

The Council simply "recognized" what was reality. Protestant denominations do, and have from their foundations,osdised elements of the Truth. That the Catholic Church would not acknowledge this reality was a symptom of our own weakness, not that of thProtestants.

Jusadbellum said...


In former times the Protestants would have been called Heretics. The Arians and others had elements of the truth too - not that it would help them much, it seems.

Still, I get that innocent women and children or those not around when the schism or heresy broke out would not likely be abandoned to their own devices by the Holy Spirit who even enlightens the pagans via natural law. So too, being baptized, the protestants would indeed enter into a relationship - however objectively impaired - that could nevertheless lead to holiness (how could it not?).

COULD is the operative word, not "absolutely, positively, happens all the time".

It's not a coincidence that Europe first went Protestant and then lost the faith entirely. Protestant Christianity is ultimately not strong enough to resist the pop culture and good old human concupiscience. Eventually the virtues held in place by habit would fall and without theological and sacramental supports they'd not be replaced.

The bible belt is full of 'unchurched' people despite having tons of small and mid-size protestant churches. I think the un-churched and atheists will continue to rise until Catholics take our universal call to holiness more seriously.

How much would you have to hate someone to believe all we believe about Christ and the Catholic Church but then not tell them about it? How much do you have to despise or hate someone to intentionally NOT invite them to 'come and see'. And by "see" I don't mean come and see our awesome architecture or Latin Mas. I mean invite them to fellowship, bible study, family picnics and prayer so as to calmly and gently lead them at least to the water of the encounter with Christ?

if they fall in love with the King they'll care about knowing more of the Kingdom. If they love the King they'll suddenly care about the King's rules and wishes for his people. If they love the king, they'll love all the other friends of the King throughout the ages.

So... why wouldn't we want to share our Catholic faith with the unchurched or even the Protestants among us?

Anonymous said...

Fr Kavanaugh, Vat II was only a pastoral council and what you quote is in contravention of what the Church previously taught and, therefore, it is not that the Church was weak in the past but that Vat II was subverted by modernists who wanted to weaken the Church and Her doctrine. The protestant Churches are as they always were - heretical.

JBS said...

Michael Kavanaugh,

When the Reformation kings and princes of northern Europe were taking control over catechesis and ritual, what would have been the advantage for the Catholic Church to recognize elements of truth remaining after these actions? Why would Protestant reformers, who rejected the authority of the pope, care what the popes thought about them?

It wasn't until the 20th century that the Reformation was no longer actively persecuting the Catholic Church (e.g. Catholic Emancipation in England was finalized only in the mid-19th century), so it makes sense that mutual recognition of truth developed in the 20th century, after two catastrophic wars.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Jan - Other Christian denominations, to greater and lesser degrees, possess elements of Gospel Truth. They always have. That the Catholic Church failed to recognize or acknowledge these is a result of our inner weaknesses, not those of the Protestant denominations.

JBS - What Reformation era nobles may or may not have done is immaterial. Protestant denominations have always taught elements of the Truth, some more than others, some less than others.

Vatican's Two's "declaration" was simply a recognition of fact that we, do to our own internal limitations, had been unable to utter previously.

JBS said...

Our Dear Father Kavanaugh,

Since the Reformation was accomplished by political rulers, it's hard to see how you find their actions immaterial. Yours is an example of victim blaming. The Catholics who remained faithful during the persecutions and discriminations inflicted on them by their Protestant rulers can hardly be accused of "internal limitations" for failing to acknowledge elements of the truth present in their persecutors. These persecutions and discriminations had come to an end by the 20th century, and so the Church was able to formally note such elements.

Gene said...

This is a difficult issue, but I find myself agreeing with Cavy Gnaw to an extent. Although it is true and correct to say that there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict indicated that the "ecclesial communities" of protestantism fall within the shadow of the Church. The Church remains the true path to salvation, and the warnings are very strong about remaining outside her, but we must understand that dispensations, as it were, do occur in God's mercy and in salvation history. Although, were I a protestant, I would grow anxious about remaining there given the state of protestantism...however, the Church is no longer a shining example of Truth, either. There is certainly a dynamic relationship between the Church and protestantism...while the Church holds the repository of doctrine and the Faith, protestantism provides a check against theological excess and things like a too lovey-dovey relationship with Enlightenment Reason. I believe that now, in particular, the history of the neo-protestant failure and the decline of most protestant churches into secular humanism provides a very strong warning to the Church. In my personal theologizing, I find that Calvin, for instance, delineates very clearly the differences and agreements between the Church and protestantism. My prayer is that the Church will get straight and that more and more protestants will be drawn into her. I could certainly be wrong, but in the Resurrection life of the New Creation, I expect to see and converse with many of our protrestant brethren who have confessed the Creeds and faithfully trusted in and preached Christ crucified and resurrected. Christ have mercy if I am wrong...

JBS said...


Although I'll need some time to recover from your public agreement with PI, I think your comment is right on target.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

JBS - I'm not blaming anyone for anything. That elements of Truth have been present in Protestant denominations since their founding is simply a fact. That the Catholic Church did not recognize these until relatively recent times is also a fact. We can discuss the "why" questions, but these do not alter the facts.

The Leaders of the Church, not the afflicted faithful, were the ones who failed. And the failures were shared by leaders on all sides. What we ought to do is learn from those failures and not fall into repeating them.

Andrew said...

An 1868 CPF document gave strict instructions that non Catholics must not participate in religious classes or practices when attending catholic schools, both to cloister the catholic students but also protect the authority of the non catholic parents over their children.

JBS said...

Father Kavanaugh,

I agree.