Monday, October 31, 2016


Pope urges Catholics and Lutherans to recognize past errors

Pope Francis at the ecumenical prayer service in Lund Cathedral - ANSA
Pope Francis at the ecumenical prayer service in Lund Cathedral - ANSA
31/10/2016 12:56
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Monday urged Catholics and Lutherans to recognize past “errors” and seize "the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreement that have often prevented us from understanding one another." He said the division between Catholics and Lutherans was “perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world” rather than by the faithful people of God. The Pope was speaking during his homily at an ecumenical prayer service in the Lutheran Cathedral of Lund shortly after his arrival in Sweden for a 26-hour pastoral visit.

Please find below an English transcript of the Pope’s prepared homily during the prayer service:
“Abide in me as I abide in you” (Jn 15:4).  These words, spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper, allow us to peer into the heart of Christ just before his ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  We can feel his heart beating with love for us and his desire for the unity of all who believe in him.  He tells us that he is the true vine and that we are the branches, that just as he is one with the Father, so we must be one with him if we wish to bear fruit.
Here in Lund, at this prayer service, we wish to manifest our shared desire to remain one with Christ, so that we may have life.  We ask him, “Lord, help us by your grace to be more closely united to you and thus, together, to bear a more effective witness of faith, hope and love”.  This is also a moment to thank God for the efforts of our many brothers and sisters from different ecclesial communities who refused to be resigned to division, but instead kept alive the hope of reconciliation among all who believe in the one Lord.
As Catholics and Lutherans, we have undertaken a common journey of reconciliation.  Now, in the context of the commemoration of the Reformation of 1517, we have a new opportunity to accept a common path, one that has taken shape over the past fifty years in the ecumenical dialogue between the Lutheran World Federation and the Catholic Church.  Nor can we be resigned to the division and distance that our separation has created between us.  We have the opportunity to mend a critical moment of our history by moving beyond the controversies and disagreements that have often prevented us from understanding one another.
Jesus tells us that the Father is the “vinedresser” (cf. v. 1) who tends and prunes the vine in order to make it bear more fruit (cf. v. 2).  The Father is constantly concerned for our relationship with Jesus, to see if we are truly one with him (cf. v. 4).  He watches over us, and his gaze of love inspires us to purify our past and to work in the present to bring about the future of unity that he so greatly desires.
We too must look with love and honesty at our past, recognizing error and seeking forgiveness, for God alone is our judge.  We ought to recognize with the same honesty and love that our division distanced us from the primordial intuition of God’s people, who naturally yearn to be one, and that it was perpetuated historically by the powerful of this world rather than the faithful people, which always and everywhere needs to be guided surely and lovingly by its Good Shepherd.  Certainly, there was a sincere will on the part of both sides to profess and uphold the true faith, but at the same time we realize that we closed in on ourselves out of fear or bias with regard to the faith which others profess with a different accent and language.  As Pope John Paul II said, “We must not allow ourselves to be guided by the intention of setting ourselves up as judges of history but solely by the motive of understanding better what happened and of becoming messengers of truth” (Letter to Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, President of the Secretariat for Christian Unity, 31 October 1983).  God is the vinedresser, who with immense love tends and protects the vine; let us be moved by his watchful gaze.  The one thing he desires is for us to abide like living branches in his Son Jesus.  With this new look at the past, we do not claim to realize an impracticable correction of what took place, but “to tell that history differently” (LUTHERAN-ROMAN CATHOLIC COMMISSION ON UNITY, From Conflict to Communion, 17 June 2013, 16).
Jesus reminds us: “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (v. 5).  He is the one who sustains us and spurs us on to find ways to make our unity ever more visible.  Certainly, our separation has been an immense source of suffering and misunderstanding, yet it has also led us to recognize honestly that without him we can do nothing; in this way it has enabled us to understand better some aspects of our faith.  With gratitude we acknowledge that the Reformation helped give greater centrality to sacred Scripture in the Church’s life.  Through shared hearing of the word of God in the Scriptures, important steps forward have been taken in the dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation, whose fiftieth anniversary we are presently celebrating.  Let us ask the Lord that his word may keep us united, for it is a source of nourishment and life; without its inspiration we can do nothing.
The spiritual experience of Martin Luther challenges us to remember that apart from God we can do nothing.  “How can I get a propitious God?”  This is the question that haunted Luther.  In effect, the question of a just relationship with God is the decisive question for our lives.  As we know, Luther encountered that propitious God in the Good News of Jesus, incarnate, dead and risen.  With the concept “by grace alone”, he reminds us that God always takes the initiative, prior to any human response, even as he seeks to awaken that response.  The doctrine of justification thus expresses the essence of human existence before God.
Jesus intercedes for us as our mediator before the Father; he asks him that his disciples may be one, “so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).  This is what comforts us and inspires us to be one with Jesus, and thus to pray: “Grant us the gift of unity, so that the world may believe in the power of your mercy”.  This is the testimony the world expects from us.  We Christians will be credible witnesses of mercy to the extent that forgiveness, renewal and reconciliation are daily experienced in our midst.  Together we can proclaim and manifest God’s mercy, concretely and joyfully, by upholding and promoting the dignity of every person.  Without this service to the world and in the world, Christian faith is incomplete.
As Lutherans and Catholics, we pray together in this Cathedral, conscious that without God we can do nothing.  We ask his help, so that we can be living members, abiding in him, ever in need of his grace, so that together we may bring his word to the world, which so greatly needs his tender love and mercy.


The result of 1960's and 70's "spirit of Vatican II" thinking was the following in my first 15 years or so as a Catholic priest, roughly from 1980 to 1995.

1. Many priests indiscrimately offered Holy Communion to non Catholics at funeral and nuptial Masses to specifically include the non-Catholic spouses and family members at either. In fact when I was in Augusta at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, another parish had a large wedding in my church, which I allowed. I happen to be in the sacristy that faithful Saturday at about the time Holy Communion was to begin, only to hear the priest-celebrant boldly and arrogantly proclaim to the congregation that if you believe in Jesus come and receive Holy Communion. (This priest is now dead, but known for taking illegal liberalities with the liturgy and secular things.)

2. Improvisation of the Mass parts, which continues to this day and even under Pope Benedict will accelerate.

3. Liturgical dance was very much in favor. My first experience of it was Advent 1980 at St. Teresa's in Albany where the now deceased pastor, thoroughly prepared for the. Priesthood prior to Vatican II, loved the concept of liturgical dance, but didn't really understand what it was. Each year he would invite a dance group of little girls from a local dance studio to preform during Mass. What a fiasco!

At a non-liturgical prelude to a Marian Procession of Images of our Blessed Mother at St. Peter's Square, to fill time before it occurred and the pope came to pray the Holy Rosary with us, there was a sort of entertainment with a mix of interviews, music and dance. I had no problem with this because the place was packed for hours and it helped to pass the time and was entertaining in a very wholesome way.

The talent was great and to a couple of Marian hymns expert dancers danced to what was being sung. It doesn't do anything for me personally, but outside of Mass or any of the Sacraments of the Church it is no big deal to me, just don't drag it into the celebration of the official liturgies of the Church.

Pope Benedict an expert on the liturgy with a vision for it that included the older Mass but also the 1970's current Missal celebrated well, did not include the three things I list above.

We are going backwards, I feel, to the 1970's under the current thinking of many who are now in power in the hierarchy.  Will we ever go back to the future? Stay tuned for the sequel! I bet we will, but am I clairvoyant?

Saturday, October 29, 2016


Fundamentalist Protestants accuse Catholics of being a Satanic cult. The many examples they use to prove their point fall on the major religious holy days of the Catholic Church's calendar and liturgical life, not to mention popular piety.

For example, Halloween (All Hallows' Eve) is decried as the pagan Druids festival that the Catholic Church perpetuates to this day. The date of Christmas originates from pagan celebrations in the pre-Christian Roman Empire as does the date of Easter.

In all of this our Fundamentalist detractors are correct! The Catholic Church, where possible, has been willing to bring into the liturgical, spiritual and pious life the the Church pagan practices, not as such, but by transforming them, baptizing them and giving them a Catholic meaning that resonates with the culture in which they developed.

But this inculturation can go bad. Think of Santeria.
(Wikipedia)Santería is a system of beliefs that merges aspects of Yoruba mythology that were brought to the New World by enslaved Yoruba people, along with Christianity and Indigenous American traditions.[2] The Yoruba people carried with them various religious customs, including a trance and divination system for communicating with their ancestors and deities, animal sacrifice, and sacred drumming and dance.[3][4] The need to preserve their traditions and belief systems in a hostile cultural environment prompted those enslaved in Cuba, starting from as early as 1515, to merge their customs with aspects of Roman Catholicism.[4]

This religious tradition evolved into what is now recognized as Santería. Voodoo is closely related to it and incorporates Catholic pious images and many Catholics practice it.

The greatest liturgical battle today and in the future now, with the purge of the Congregation of Worship (except, oddly enough for its Prefect) is going to be inculturation in the Catholic Mass. John Allen of Crux highlights what could be as the 1970's reappear in Rome under the current pontiff.

Going backwards to a dark part of our post Vatican II history seems ill advised to me  because it caused such strife in the Church and pushed so many people out of the Church to the point today that in some places only 12 % of Catholics actually attend Mass because they see nothing worth attending.

The Liturgy celebrated poorly ( and I am not calling for an exclusive return to the EF Mass) is what has in part caused this loss of faith and move toward nothingness. I am speaking of the manner in which the Ordinary Form is celebrated in 90% or so, give or take, of parishes worldwide. It is a fiasco. However, it has more to do with corrupting the 1970 Missal and its new edition rather than the missal itself being corrupt although it could use some more tweaking to improve it.

But with that said, here is John Allen's take on  a pariah of the 1970's mentality coming back like Jason of Friday the 13th when you last expect it: THE OTHER MARINI! 

I’d like to suggest a new parlor game to amuse all those who enjoy reading Vatican tea leaves: Debating the greatest ecclesiastical “resurrections” under Pope Francis, i.e., figures in the Church whose careers appeared to be effectively over before March 13, 2013, and who are now back in the limelight.
The thought occurs in light of the Vatican’s announcement on Friday of new members appointed by Francis for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the top office for liturgical policy, including Italian Archbishop Piero Marini.
 For anyone around during the John Paul II years, Marini is a very familiar figure, having served as the Polish pope’s Master of Liturgical Ceremonies for twenty years from 1987 to 2007.
That time overlapped with the run of Chilean Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship from 1996 to 2002, and the tensions between the two men were the stuff of Vatican legend.
While Medina was a stickler for tradition, Marini is an innovator fired by a progressive reading of the Second Vatican Council. Legendarily, he would approve flourishes during the pope’s own Masses that would never have passed muster on Medina’s watch in a local parish.
To this day, I recall being in Mexico City with John Paul II in 2002 for the canonization Mass of Juan Diego, and watching a female Mexican shaman perform a dancing purification ritual on the pontiff with a bit of shrubbery during the Mass - in effect, the witch doctor exorcised John Paul. (Marini later explained that the ritual is part of traditional Mexican religiosity, arguing there’s a time-honored thrust in Christianity to “baptize” such expressions of popular faith.)
I couldn’t help calling a guy I knew in Medina’s office, whose thundering verdict on the whole thing as he watched it unfold with mounting horror on TV was, “Marini must go!”
By 2007, it appeared just that had happened.
There was a new pope, Benedict XVI, who brought a lifetime of reflection on the liturgy to the papacy, and who was obviously moving in a different direction. Marini was appointed to run the Vatican’s office for international Eucharistic congresses, and was seen as having no real authority anymore.

Friday, October 28, 2016


Excerpt:"Luther was viewed as a heretic. Calvin, moreover, as a schismatic. Let me explain myself. Heresy - to use Chesteron’s definition - is a good idea gone mad. When the Church cannot heal its madness, then heresy turns into schism. Schism implies rupture, division, separation, independent consolidation; it progresses by subsequent stages until it gains its autonomy. Saint Ignatius and his successors would fight against schismatic heresy."

Luther: a “crazy idea” developed in heresy and schism
by ???????

Many times Saint Ignatius has been called the bastion of the Counter-Reformation. There is truth in this, but [. . .] the Jesuits were more worried about Calvin than about Luther. [. . .] They had shrewdly grasped that the true danger for the Church lay there.

Calvin was the great thinker of the Protestant Reformation, the one who organized it and brought it to the level of culture, society, and the Church; he shaped an organization that Luther had not envisioned. He, the impetuous German who probably had planned at the most to give life to a national Church, was reinterpreted and reorganized by that cold Frenchman, a Latin genius versed in jurisprudence, who was Calvin.

Luther was viewed as a heretic. Calvin, moreover, as a schismatic. Let me explain myself. Heresy - to use Chesteron’s definition - is a good idea gone mad. When the Church cannot heal its madness, then heresy turns into schism. Schism implies rupture, division, separation, independent consolidation; it progresses by subsequent stages until it gains its autonomy. Saint Ignatius and his successors would fight against schismatic heresy.

And what is the Calvinist schism that would bring about the struggle of Ignatius and the first Jesuits? It is a schism that touches upon three areas: man, society, and the Church. [. . .]

In man, Calvinism would provoke the schism between reason and emotion. It separates reason from the heart. On the emotional level the man of that century, and under the Lutheran influence, would live out the anguish over his own salvation. And, according to Calvin, that anguish was nothing to worry about. All that mattered was attending to the questions of intellect and will.

This is the origin of Calvinist wretchedness: a rigid discipline with a great distrust in that which is vital, the foundation of which is faith in the total corruption of human nature, which can be put into order only by the superstructure of human activity. Calvin effects a schism within man: between reason and the heart.

Moreover, within the faculty of reason itself, Calvin provokes another schism: between positive knowledge and speculative knowledge. This is the scientism that shatters metaphysical unity and provokes a schism in the intellective process of man. Every scientific object is taken as absolute. The most sure science is geometry. Geometric theorems will be a sure reference guide for thought. This schism, having taken place within human reason itself, strikes at the whole speculative tradition of the Church and the whole humanistic tradition.

The Calvinist schism then strikes at society. This will remain divided by it. As the bearers of salvation, Calvin privileges the middle classes. [. . .] This implies and involves a revolutionary disrespect for the people. There is no longer people nor nation, and what instead takes shape is an international association of the bourgeoisie.

With an anachronism we could apply here the formula of Marx: “Bourgeoisie of the whole world, unite,” despising anything that might signify the nobility of the people. With this attitude Calvin is the true father of liberalism, which was a political strike at the heart of the people, at their way of being and expressing themselves, at their culture, at their way of being civic, political, artistic, and religious.

On the social level, this is probably most noticeable first in the elaboration of Hobbes (according to whom men had to brought to live together by means of deception and force, while the state, the “modern Leviathan,” existed simply to keep egoism at bay and avoid anarchy, legitimizing a logic of authority, since there was no natural law) and then of Locke, much more sophisticated but no less cruel.

Hobbes asserts a heartless “power,” with an absolutist and rationalist justification. Locke dresses all of this in “civil composure” and seeks to redefine society while excluding the people.

Locke’s position is the following: he begins from the admission of a certain natural law and wields the slogan “reason teaches that. . .” in order to then draw - as if by magic - conclusions that justify that social schism: man - because he transcends his natural corruption through activism - can possess the fruit of his work as long as that fruit is not corruptible. This leads to money and the money-focused character of liberalism.

Moreover, reason teaches that man has the right to buy work; and this gives rise to two kinds of workers: those who possess incorruptible goods and those who do not possess them. The state has the function of keeping order between these two categories of workers, preventing the rebellion of the latter against the former. At bottom, Calvinist-schismatic-liberal thought is claiming for the second group of workers the power of rebellion, what we would call today the rebellion of the proletariat. In the end, Marxism is the inevitable child of liberalism. [. . .]

In the third place, the Calvinist schism wounds the Church. [. . .] It supplants the universality of the people of God with the internationalism of the bourgeoisie. [. . .] It decapitates the people of God from unity with the Father. It decapitates all the professional confraternities, depriving them of the saints. And, by suppressing the Mass, it deprives the people of God of mediation in Christ really present. [. . .]

At bottom, Calvin had tried to save man, whom the Lutheran perspective had thrown into anguish. In Luther one encounters the intention of saving man from Renaissance paganism, but that intention had developed into a “crazy idea,” or heresy. Thus Calvin, with the legislative coldness that characterizes him, starts from the distressing Lutheran framework and progresses in this way: man is corrupt; therefore, discipline.

This leads to what we know as “Protestant rigor.” This proposes signs of salvation that are different from those of Catholics - the ones that we cited previously - and the sign is the work of accumulation. Almost as if one were to equate the fruits of work with the signs of salvation. We could simplify it in a caricatured form with this axiom: “You will be saved if you obtain the wealth that is obtained with work.” And so the middle class is formed.

Starting from the Lutheran position, if we are consistent, there remain only two possibilities from which to choose in the course of history: either man falls apart in his anguish, and he is no longer anything at all (and this is the conclusion of atheist existentialism), or man, basing himself on that same anguish and corruption, makes a leap in the void and declares himself superman (this is the option of Nietzsche).

At bottom Nietzsche regenerates Hobbes, in the sense that the “ultima ratio” of man is power. Authority is possible only in opposition to love, on the basis of the opposition within man between reason and heart. Such power, as the “ultima ratio,” implies the death of God. This is a paganism that, in the cases of Nazism and Marxism, would acquire organized forms in political systems.

The Lutheran perspective, since it is founded precisely on the divorce between faith and religion (it in fact conceives of faith as the only salvation and accuses religion - acts of religion, piety, and so on - of being a mere manipulation of God), generates divorce and schism; it entails all the forms of individualism that, on the social level, affirms their hegemony.

Any sort of hegemony, whether religious, political, social, or spiritual, has its origin here.


Thursday, October 27, 2016


Good points Dialogue!

"How does someone who does not live by the the Word of God stand up and proclaim that very Word to a congregation? Where is the integrity in such a practical lie?

How does someone who does not believe in the Sacrifice of Christ present to a priest the congregation's sacrifice, which becomes that of Christ? Where is the integrity in such a practical lie?

How does someone who does not believe in Baptism or Christian resurrection present the mortal garb of baptismal resurrection for use on a coffin? Where is the integrity in such a practical lie?

We must console mourning non-believers, but we shouldn't make liars out of them"

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


When people lose a loved one or a loved one leaves detailed directions about their funeral rites, and what is requested is absurd, sentimental, superficial or down right dumb in a Catholic funeral rite, what is a priest suppose to do? I hate entering into arguments at the time of death with those to whom I am suppose to be ministering.

As a pastor, I have strict guidelines on what can and can't be sung at a funeral Mass and that in my parish, the propers will be chanted even if other approved religious songs are chosen. I can mandate that and I do and I follow through.

I do not allow non Catholics or non practicing Catholics to plan the funeral rites of the deceased nor in any way have a formal participation such as lector or gift bearer. I can mandate that. 

I also have mandated that funeral eulogies after Holy Communion are not allowed but there can be as many as the family wants after the Vigil for the Deceased at the funeral home or their residence.

However, I cannot mandate the burial of cremains. I emphasize that Church Law requires that these be interred with a proper Catholic prayers and at a place that can be visited. But once the body is cremated, the family has complete control over the cremains, unlike the dead body, which state law requires be interred and not brought home after the funeral rites!

So with an intact body, the state makes the decision about "disposal" which in the past has always  been a burial or entombment. I have the state's backing. The Church is impotent to require this sort of thing if the state allows otherwise.  With cremains, the state has no laws although the Church does--but these laws and those who implement are impotent!

I do not think it wise to deny a Catholic funeral to a person who has requested the family to keep the cremains or distribute or spread them.

What are your thoughts??????

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Instruction Ad resurgendum cum Christo
regarding the burial of the deceased
and the conservation of the ashes in the case of cremation

1. To rise with Christ, we must die with Christ: we must “be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:8). With the Instruction Piam et Constantem of 5 July 1963, the then Holy Office established that “all necessary measures must be taken to preserve the practice of reverently burying the faithful departed”, adding however that cremation is not “opposed per se to the Christian religion” and that no longer should the sacraments and funeral rites be denied to those who have asked that they be cremated, under the condition that this choice has not been made through “a denial of Christian dogmas, the animosity of a secret society, or hatred of the Catholic religion and the Church”.[1] Later this change in ecclesiastical discipline was incorporated into the Code of Canon Law (1983) and the Code of Canons of Oriental Churches (1990).
During the intervening years, the practice of cremation has notably increased in many countries, but simultaneously new ideas contrary to the Church’s faith have also become widespread. Having consulted the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and numerous Episcopal Conferences and Synods of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has deemed opportune the publication of a new Instruction, with the intention of underlining the doctrinal and pastoral reasons for the preference of the burial of the remains of the faithful and to set out norms pertaining to the conservation of ashes in the case of cremation.
2. The resurrection of Jesus is the culminating truth of the Christian faith, preached as an essential part of the Paschal Mystery from the very beginnings of Christianity: “For I handed on to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures; that he appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve” (1 Cor15:3-5). 
Through his death and resurrection, Christ freed us from sin and gave us access to a new life, “so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Rm 6:4). Furthermore, the risen Christ is the principle and source of our future resurrection: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep […] For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:20-22).
It is true that Christ will raise us up on the last day; but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. In Baptism, actually, we are immersed in the death and resurrection of Christ and sacramentally assimilated to him: “You were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12). United with Christ by Baptism, we already truly participate in the life of the risen Christ (cf. Eph 2:6).
Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning. The Christian vision of death receives privileged expression in the liturgy of the Church: “Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven”.[2] By death the soul is separated from the body, but in the resurrection God will give incorruptible life to our body, transformed by reunion with our soul. In our own day also, the Church is called to proclaim her faith in the resurrection: “The confidence of Christians is the resurrection of the dead; believing this we live”.[3]
3. Following the most ancient Christian tradition, the Church insistently recommends that the bodies of the deceased be buried in cemeteries or other sacred places.[4]
In memory of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord, the mystery that illumines the Christian meaning of death,[5] burial is above all the most fitting way to express faith and hope in the resurrection of the body.[6]
The Church who, as Mother, has accompanied the Christian during his earthly pilgrimage, offers to the Father, in Christ, the child of her grace, and she commits to the earth, in hope, the seed of the body that will rise in glory.[7]
By burying the bodies of the faithful, the Church confirms her faith in the resurrection of the body,[8] and intends to show the great dignity of the human body as an integral part of the human person whose body forms part of their identity.[9] She cannot, therefore, condone attitudes or permit rites that involve erroneous ideas about death, such as considering death as the definitive annihilation of the person, or the moment of fusion with Mother Nature or the universe, or as a stage in the cycle of regeneration, or as the definitive liberation from the “prison” of the body.
Furthermore, burial in a cemetery or another sacred place adequately corresponds to the piety and respect owed to the bodies of the faithful departed who through Baptism have become temples of the Holy Spirit and in which “as instruments and vessels the Spirit has carried out so many good works”.[10]
Tobias, the just, was praised for the merits he acquired in the sight of God for having buried the dead,[11] and the Church considers the burial of dead one of the corporal works of mercy.[12]
Finally, the burial of the faithful departed in cemeteries or other sacred places encourages family members and the whole Christian community to pray for and remember the dead, while at the same time fostering the veneration of martyrs and saints.
Through the practice of burying the dead in cemeteries, in churches or their environs, Christian tradition has upheld the relationship between the living and the dead and has opposed any tendency to minimize, or relegate to the purely private sphere, the event of death and the meaning it has for Christians.
4. In circumstances when cremation is chosen because of sanitary, economic or social considerations, this choice must never violate the explicitly-stated or the reasonably inferable wishes of the deceased faithful. The Church raises no doctrinal objections to this practice, since cremation of the deceased’s body does not affect his or her soul, nor does it prevent God, in his omnipotence, from raising up the deceased body to new life. Thus cremation, in and of itself, objectively negates neither the Christian doctrine of the soul’s immortality nor that of the resurrection of the body.[13]
The Church continues to prefer the practice of burying the bodies of the deceased, because this shows a greater esteem towards the deceased. Nevertheless, cremation is not prohibited, “unless it was chosen for reasons contrary to Christian doctrine”.[14]
In the absence of motives contrary to Christian doctrine, the Church, after the celebration of the funeral rite, accompanies the choice of cremation, providing the relevant liturgical and pastoral directives, and taking particular care to avoid every form of scandal or the appearance of religious indifferentism.
5. When, for legitimate motives, cremation of the body has been chosen, the ashes of the faithful must be laid to rest in a sacred place, that is, in a cemetery or, in certain cases, in a church or an area, which has been set aside for this purpose, and so dedicated by the competent ecclesial authority.
From the earliest times, Christians have desired that the faithful departed become the objects of the Christian community’s prayers and remembrance. Their tombs have become places of prayer, remembrance and reflection. The faithful departed remain part of the Church who believes “in the communion of all the faithful of Christ, those who are pilgrims on earth, the dead who are being purified, and the blessed in heaven, all together forming one Church”.[15]
The reservation of the ashes of the departed in a sacred place ensures that they are not excluded from the prayers and remembrance of their family or the Christian community. It prevents the faithful departed from being forgotten, or their remains from being shown a lack of respect, which eventuality is possible, most especially once the immediately subsequent generation has too passed away. Also it prevents any unfitting or superstitious practices.
6. For the reasons given above, the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence is not permitted. Only in grave and exceptional cases dependent on cultural conditions of a localized nature, may the Ordinary, in agreement with the Episcopal Conference or the Synod of Bishops of the Oriental Churches, concede permission for the conservation of the ashes of the departed in a domestic residence. Nonetheless, the ashes may not be divided among various family members and due respect must be maintained regarding the circumstances of such a conservation.
7. In order that every appearance of pantheism, naturalism or nihilism be avoided, it is not permitted to scatter the ashes of the faithful departed in the air, on land, at sea or in some other way, nor may they be preserved in mementos, pieces of jewelry or other objects. These courses of action cannot be legitimized by an appeal to the sanitary, social, or economic motives that may have occasioned the choice of cremation.
8. When the deceased notoriously has requested cremation and the scattering of their ashes for reasons contrary to the Christian faith, a Christian funeral must be denied to that person according to the norms of the law.[16]
The Sovereign Pontiff Francis, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on 18 March 2016, approved the present Instruction, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation on 2 March 2016, and ordered its publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 15 August 2016, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 
Gerhard Card. Müller
+ Luis F. Ladaria, S.I.
Titular Archbishop of Thibica


This morning, and it is early, I read some despicable things concerning the manner in which this terror group sadistically murdered some men and children. We grow immune to what is actually being done thinking it is just another sort of reality show.

I wrote that I confessed my guilt about liking "The Walking Dead" an AMC television series that is one of the most popular shows on cable TV. I liked the fact it is filmed in Georgia. Its writing is very good and the acting is excellent.

I see it as a metaphor for the "zombies" that the terrorists are, mindless people who act in mindless ways with no sense of empathy, guilt or feelings. They are like crocodiles who devour their booty without thinking for they can't think.

Thus the gratuitous violence of this TV show when directed to the mindless zombies can be overlooked as just one aspect of what horror shows do to instill fear in the audience.

But the Walking Dead has taken gratuitous violence to a new level on television far beyond what the hacker and slashers shows of  another generation accomplished in full view. Nothing is left to the imagination, all is in full view.

Violence and sex become pornography when what is watched titilates, fasicnates and pulls one toward the perversion depicted rather then repels.

I fear The Walking Dead did this precisely in its first show of its new but short season. It was pornography and hard core at that but with sex but with violence. Of course the violence that is depicted isn't actually happening to the actor experiencing it. It is make-believe unlike what Isis does or when a murderer films his acts of real violence and murder.

The Walking Dead has shown how one might survive in a world that is nuts. And while the living act in a concerted and thought out way to perpetrate their violence towards other living, it was often justified in terms of the warfare taking place to survive. The vivid images of zombies being stabbed in the head, decaptiated and the like or the zombies eating the instestines of their victims in full view is what zombies do but they don't do it consciously but like crocodiles.

Sunday night's episode showed a non zombie doing zombie like things and it was graphic and pornographic. But isn't there a moral here and a warning?

But will some  in real life now think that they can imitate what they see in art or porn (you decide what the new episode of The Walking Dead is).

We live in violent times where reality and fantasy are imitating one another. It is scary!


Granted, what I reproduce below from "The Vatican Insider" is a reporter's story of what Pope Franics said often in his famous "off-the-cuff" ways which I would say is a new "low" (of-the-cuff-statements) in terms of how seriously we as Catholics should take what the pope is saying. It ain't infallible in other words. But the pope only speaks infallibly in the extraordinary magisterium of the Church which is, well, extraordinary. Most of what any pope teaches is ordinary or below that.

What Pope Francis imprecisely articulates is a "pastoral theology" which began to take shape as named in the late 1960's and 70's. In fact, Pope Francis has brought us back to this period as His Holiness must see this period of time as a "golden age" for the Church. Pastoral theology was meant to help priests to deal with the messiness of their parishioner's lives. Much of it is well advised.

Priests can live in a world very different than what most lay people live and when marriage and sex are integral to their lives, even if there is no marriage, priests sometimes can exhibit arrested development in terms of what normal laity have experienced at different levels of their lives. Many priests have a sort of ideal view of sexaulity on the academic level although deep down they know how conflicted it is for so many people and where perfection is seldom or ever attained.

So the messiness of lives, Pope Francis believes, means cutting people some slack but leaving the door open for conversion. I agree with His Holiness. We cannot control people. We are not moral poloicemen and morality is about liberation from sin and death not oppression by the Church.

Canon Law and the legal aspects of the Church should be respected. However, even in the so-called more legalistic or rigid days prior to Vatican II, the Church always allowed dispensations from certain aspects of the law. Sometimes this leads to a sense of arbritrianism. When I was a child in the pre-Vatican II Church and in peace time, military families were dispensed from the Friday abstinence! Why?

So here is another example of our pastoral pope raising more questions than he answers and seeking a more realistic Church when it comes to how people live their lives. He could have said this in an academic, uncontroversial way but then who would being reading it or discussing it?
On Thursday, Francis  inaugurated the annual Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome. In his speech, he talked about the demographic crisis resulting from a “cursed economic wellbeing”, preparation for marriage, the children of teen mothers and Cardinal Müller
Francis opens the Convention of the Diocese of Rome at St. John the Lateran.

A “rigid morality” is to be avoided but so are laxism and rigorism. Everyone must be accompanied, even sinners, leaving them space for conversion, because “morality is an act of love always, love for God, love for one’s neighbour”. Pope Francis spoke about the family at the inauguration of the annual Ecclesial Convention of the Diocese of Rome at St. John the Lateran. First he gave a speech that picked up on points discussed at the double Synod of 2014 and 2015, then he responded to three questions from faithful, touching on a diverse array of family issues, from Italy’s falling birth rates which are the result of a “cursed economic wellbeing”, the “cruelty” of not baptising the children of teen mothers, the childish faces parents pull at their new-born children – which Francis imitated – similar to God’s attitude towards humans, the need for a solid preparation for marriage that is able to counter the current “culture of precariousness”, superstitions and cultural prejudices and the consumerist tendency to focus on the celebrations and the wedding bombonieres rather than the beauty of the sacrament. The Pope’s speech was sprinkled with punchlines, personal memories and jokes that drew laughter and applause from his audience of faithful, for example, when he said: “Don’t go telling on me to Cardinal Müller”, the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“Neither rigorism, nor laxism are the truth, the Gospel chooses another way,” Francis said in answer to a woman’s question on how to avoid a “double morality” between rigorism and laxism. “Welcome, accompany, integrate and discern… without sticking your noses in the moral lives of people”. The Pope recalled that in his Apostolic Exhortation on the Family, the “Amoris Laetitia”, as Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, a “great theologian”, said, “everything is Thomist, from start to end, it is irrefutable doctrine. But,” he continued, “we often want irrefutable doctrine to have a mathematical certainty, which does not exist, both with laxism, open-handedness and rigidity.” The Pope referred to some examples from the Gospel, first the adulterous woman (“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her”), then the Samaritan (who, Francis said, making faithful laugh, “had lots of medals for adultery, a very decorated woman…”): “Let us go towards the Gospel, let us go towards Jesus. This does not mean throwing the water out with the child, no, it means seeking the truth: morality is an act of love always, love for God and for one’s neighbour, it is an act that leaves space for the conversion of the other, it is not quick to condemn”. The Pope then talked about a piece of advice given to him by a predecessor of his – Juan Carlos Aramburu – in Buenos Aires: when you discover that your priest has a double life, the cardinal said, call him, tell him and then send him home, telling him to come back in 15 days. At first he will deny what you say, then he will have time to reflect, repent, admit to his own sins and ask for help.

“This man celebrated in moral sin for 15 days, according to morality: but what is better?” the Pope said, “that the bishop had the generosity to give him 15 days to think things over or a rigid morality?” Francis went on to talk about a fellow course mate at university, who gave a very theoretical answer in an exam on confession, saying: “This is found in books, not in reality”: “But speaking of this, please don’t go telling on me to Cardinal Müller!”

Individualism, the Pope said, in response to the first question, “is the axis of this culture”, “it has many names and one selfish root”. It means “not taking others, other families into account” and can even go as far as “pastoral cruelty”, Francis continued, mentioning his experience in another diocese when he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires: “Some parish priests didn’t want to baptise the children of teen mothers and treated them like animals.” Individualism also taken on hedonistic traits, “I was about to use a strong phrase but I’ll say it in inverted commas,” he continued, that “cursed economic wellbeing” which has caused us so much harm. Italy today is witnessing a fall in birth rates, I think it’s below zero: this started with that culture of economic wellbeing 20 years ago. I met many families who preferred – but please don’t go to animal lovers telling on me, I don’t want to offend anyone – to have two or three cats or a dog instead of a child,” the Pope said. “Because having a child is not easy,” “you give life to a person who will become free” and while “a cat and a dog will give you an affection that is preset and not free,” children will be free, they will have to face life with all its risks and this is the challenge that scares people”. But sometimes “we are afraid of freedom, even when it comes to pastoral care” and if you go along with a “clean-hands type of pastoral care, like the Pharisees, where everything is clean, everything is in order, everything is great,” you do not realise “how much misery there is outside this environment, how much pain, how much poverty, what a lack of opportunities for development”.

“Hedonistic individualism is afraid of freedom, it is an… individualism that traps you, it locks you in a cage and won’t let you fly,” Francis said. Instead, we need to “take risks”. And we need to show tenderness: “This is God’s caress. In a synod I attended years ago, a suggestion was made “to revolutionise tenderness” but some fathers said it didn’t sound right… today, however, we can say it: tenderness is lack, we need to offer caresses, not just to the sick but also to sinners. Tenderness is a language for the youngest among us, those who have nothing, children for example. I like to hear mothers and fathers become children and talk like this,” the Pope continued pulling a child-like face, “this is tenderness, lowering myself: this is the path Jesus laid, he did not see being God as a privilege, he lowered himself and spoke our language, using our gestures”.

As far as preparation for marriage goes, “I remember I once called a boy here in Italy whom I had met a while back, at Ciampino and he was getting married,” the Pope said, answering the last question put to him. “I called him: your mum said you’re getting married. To which he replied: we’re looking for a church that’s suitable for my girlfriend’s dress and then there are so many other things, the bombonieres, finding a restaurant that isn’t too far away. Are these the concerns of future spouses?” The Pope criticised the way in which marriage is seen as a “social event” but at the same time urged the Church not to shut its doors but to concentrate “patiently” on the solid preparation of young couples for marriage: “Preparation for marriage must be done by showing closeness, without fear, slowly: there are boy and girls who are immensely pure and have a great love, but there are few of them. There are good young people in today’s culture but they have to be guided until they are mature enough. That is when the sacrament is celebrated with joy. It takes a lot of patience, without getting scared.” During the speech he gave off the cuff, the Pope attracted laughter and applause from faithful on various occasions. For example, when he talked about a “superstition” that established itself in north-eastern Argentina, where couples start off by having children, then then get married in a civil ceremony and finally, when they are elderly, they get married in Church because, they claim, “having a religious wedding scares off the husband… we need to find against these kinds of superstitions too, these cultural facts”. Then there is the complexity of families, the presence of in-laws… “I heard something beautiful…women will like this: when a woman hears from the ecographer that she is pregnant with a boy, that’s when she starts learning to be a mother-in-law.” 

During his speech, before answering questions, instead of focusing on the “Amoris Laetitia”, the Pope underlined some questions that emerged during the Synod that preceded the Apostolic Exhortation, identifying three points in particular. Firstly, that the “life for every person, the life of every family needs to be treated with a great deal of respect and care”: we cannot “speak in abstract terms” or “ideologise”, not for the sake of being “politically correct” but out of respect for real life situations: “This forces us to leave behind statements of principles and instead enter the beating heart of Rome’s neighbourhoods, where like craftsmen, we can mould God's dream into this reality, something only people of faith can do, i.e. those who do not close the gate onto the action of the Spirit.”

Secondly, “let us beware of implementing a pastoral plan of ghettoes and for ghettoes”: evangelical realism, he said, “does not mean not being clear in terms of doctrine”; “It does not mean not putting the evangelical ideal forward, on the contrary, we are invited to experience this in history, with all that it entails”. In relation to this, the Pope spoke about an ancient medieval capital depicting Judas on one side and Jesus carrying the traitor on his shoulder on the other: “Don Primo Mazzolari gave a beautiful speech on this, he was a priest who understood the complexity of the Gospel’s logic well: getting one’s hands dirty like Jesus did, he was not clean, he went and met people and accepted people as they were, not as they should be”.

Finally, Francis talked about the elderly: “As a society, we have deprived our seniors of their voice. This is a social sin, of our time,” he said, stating: “This is the time for the dreams of the elderly”, which young people can turn into a reality. The Pope urged faithful to “stay away from ‘niches’ which shelter us from the maelstrom of human misfortune and enter instead into the reality of other people’s lives’ so as to know the power of tenderness”. Francis, accompanied by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, began his reflection by remarking that “the five aisles are full, there’s clearly a willingness to work hard!” 

Sunday, October 23, 2016


Clarity of thinking in the Catholic prophetic tradition is witnesses by so few in our order of bishops yet there are shinning lights! ARCHBISHOP CHAPUT is one of them:
At Notre Dame, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia said that “a smaller, lighter Church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of orthodoxy, and suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought to leave the Church.


In a stark prognosis for contemporary Catholicism, a leader of the conservative wing of the U.S. hierarchy has said that “a smaller, lighter Church” of fewer but holier believers is preferable to one that promotes inclusion at the expense of orthodoxy.
In a speech delivered Oct. 19 at the University of Notre Dame, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput also suggested that many prominent Catholics are so weak in their faith that they ought to leave the Church.
Chaput singled out Democrats such as Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine for special criticism, linking them to the concept of a “silent apostasy” coined by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and saying Catholics who do not champion the truth of Church teaching are “cowards.”
“Obviously we need to do everything we can to bring tepid Catholics back to active life in the Church,” Chaput told a symposium for bishopsand their staff members at the South Bend, Ind. campus.
“But we should never be afraid of a smaller, lighter Church if her members are also more faithful, more zealous, more missionary and more committed to holiness.
“Losing people who are members of the Church in name only is an imaginary loss,” he continued. “It may in fact be more honest for those who leave and healthier for those who stay. We should be focused on commitment, not numbers or institutional throw-weight.”
Chaput’s ideas channeled a lively and long-standing debate in Church circles - intensified by Pope Francis’s open-arms approach to ministry - about whether Catholicism should be a smaller and more tradition-minded community, or a larger and more inclusive Church of imperfect believers at various stages in their spiritual pilgrimages.
In the context of the coming presidential vote, Chaput’s speech was also the latest in a series of pronouncements by conservative bishops and Catholic activists who have blasted Democrats as Election Day draws closer.
For many observers, a chief focus of the current campaign has been the crass and increasingly threatening language of Republican nominee Donald Trump, who has bragged about demeaning and groping women. In the third and final presidential debate on Wednesday, Trump also reiterated that he believes the Nov. 8 election has been “rigged” and that he might contest any result that did not favor him.
But the U.S. bishops have been virtually silent on those topics, while some have continued to highlight the centrality of opposition to abortion and gay marriage.
In his talk at Notre Dame, Chaput, who is known for his conservative political views and his firm stances on doctrine, said both candidates were obviously flawed - though he did express admiration for Trump’s “gift for twisting the knife in America’s leadership elite and their spirit of entitlement, embodied in the person of Hillary Clinton.”
Chaput’s main focus, however, was on the wider threat posed by what he said was a secularizing culture and a progressive political agenda that “bleaches out strong religious convictions in the name of liberal tolerance.”
Too many Catholics are guilty of cooperating with that process, he said, transferring “our real loyalties and convictions from the old Church of our baptism to the new ‘Church’ of our ambitions and appetites.”
He named Biden, Kaine and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi as prime examples of this phenomenon, as well as Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Catholic and Republican appointee whose deciding vote in the landmark 2015 gay marriage case made him anathema to many social conservatives.
The politics of the U.S. hierarchy are in flux largely because Francis, who was elected in 2013, has begun naming and promoting bishops who embrace his outgoing approach to ministry and evangelization.
That trend away from the “culture warrior” bishops who came to dominate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over the past three decades was evident in the men Francis chose this month as his first American picks to be cardinals.
The three - the archbishops of Chicago and Indianapolis and the former bishop of Dallas - are known for their moderate tone and pastoral style while hard-liners like Chaput, who in a previous era might have been a strong candidate for a red hat, were passed over.
But Chaput, 72, and other conservatives in the U.S. hierarchy have been speaking out with greater frequency about the election. They tend to lament Trump’s obvious faults while singling out the Democratic ticket for special criticism and noting that opposition to legal abortion - which is part of the Republican platform and a Trump campaign promise - overrides every other policy consideration.
For example, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., last week devoted a column to criticizing Kaine’s faith and his position in support of abortion rights, calling him an “orthodox” Democrat and a “cafeteria Catholic” who is “picking and choosing the teachings of the Catholic Church that are politically convenient.”
The WikiLeaks dump of Democratic emails this month provided another opening because they included a few exchanges among Clinton advisers complaining about conservative Catholics misusing the faith for their own agendas and discussing how they could promote a “Catholic Spring” to move the Church in a more progressive direction.
Conservative activists and the Trump campaign jumped on the emails as evidence of an endemic anti-Catholicism among Democrats and demanded that Clinton fire the advisers and apologize.
Leaders of the USCCB also criticized the Clinton campaign for interfering “in the internal life of the Church for short-term political gain.”
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who hosted Clinton and Trump at the Al Smith charity dinner on Thursday, called the email exchanges from 2011 and 2012 “extraordinarily patronizing and insulting to Catholics.” He said Clinton would have apologized in minutes if those things had been said about Jews or Muslims.
Other Catholics pointed out that the participants in the back-and-forth were mainly Catholics themselves and they dismissed the exchanges as the sort of internal Church arguments that Catholics engage in publicly all the time. They also said the comments were not as harsh as remarks Trump himself has made about Francis.
Chaput has blasted the emails as “contemptuously anti-Catholic” and he criticized the Democrats for them again in his talk this week.
But his central theme was how Catholics should respond to this cultural shift.
He said that despite his “long list of concerns with the content of Islam” he admired  Muslim women who proudly wear the hijab and said Catholics could learn from that as they seek to “recover their own sense of distinction from the surrounding secular meltdown.”
He also praised Francis’s emphasis on “accompaniment” as the way to draw people to the Church and keep them there.
But he said that term has also been misused and too often means “accompanying someone over a cliff” by not insisting on the need to follow Church teachings.
The same, he said, goes for the term “inclusive.”
“If ‘inclusive’ means including people who do not believe what the Catholic faith teaches and will not reform their lives according to what the Church holds to be true, then inclusion is a form of lying,” he said.
“And it’s not just lying but an act of betrayal and violence against the rights of those who do believe and do seek to live according to God’s Word.”