Category : Roman Catholic

(Gallup) U.S. Roman Catholics’ Faith in Clergy Is Shaken

Amid turmoil in the Roman Catholic Church in the ongoing fallout from priest sex abuse scandals, a record-low 31% of U.S. Catholics rate the honesty and ethical standards of the clergy as “very high” or “high.” This marks an 18-percentage-point drop between 2017 and 2018, when more sexual abuse allegations against priests surfaced and questions arose about the Vatican’s response.

Gallup has measured the public’s views about the clergy’s ethical standards since 1977 as part of its broader “honesty and ethics of professions” poll. Initially high ratings of the clergy have been declining steadily among all adults since 2012.

The latest findings, from a Dec. 3-12 Gallup poll, come after a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report in August detailed accusations of sexual abuse involving more than 300 Catholic priests over 70 years. The report indicated that Catholic bishops and other high-ranking church leaders covered up these incidents.

The latest drop in Catholics’ positive views of the clergy’s ethics, from 49% to 31%, is the second double-digit drop since 2004. Both declines were clearly associated with scandals in the Catholic Church even though the question about clergy does not specify a denomination.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Amy Welbourn–Some Reflections on the Attractions of the Prosperity Gospel

All heresies are, essentially, an imbalance – the heightening of one aspect of truth over all others.

It seems to me that the fundamental error of any “Prosperity Gospel” lies in the elevation of the truth that yes, we find authentic peace and true joy when our wills and choices are aligned with God’s will. That’s the truth we find in the very beginning of Scripture: Adam and Eve at peace in the Garden, and then at war with each other, God, nature and themselves outside of it.

The way that a “Prosperity Gospel” twists this truth is when it encourages us to uncritically identify the fruits of a right relationship with God with anything temporal.

It instrumentalizes the spiritual life.

So now, look beyond the easy targets of health-and-wealth. Survey the contemporary popular spiritual landscape, Catholic and otherwise. If there’s a current self-help trend out there, are spiritual gurus close behind, baptizing it?

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(David Ould) New Head Of Anglican Centre In Rome Is Denier Of Jesus’ Resurrection

In a move that can only further raise concerns with the Archbishop of Canterbury’s leadership, the Anglican Centre in Rome (essentially, the “embassy” of the Anglican Communion to the Roman Catholic Church) have announced their new Interim Director….

John Shepherd was previously Dean at Perth Cathedral for many years where he gained a reputation for regularly challenging Christian orthodoxy. Most famously, in his 2008 Easter message he denied the bodily resurrection of Jesus, stating….

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Anglican Church of Australia, Archbishop of Canterbury, Australia / NZ, Ecumenical Relations, Eschatology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, Theology: Scripture

(Oxford Student) Petition Launched To Remove Law Professor John Finnis For what are Alleged to be “Discriminatory” Comments

A petition to remove Emeritus Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy John Finnis from teaching has attracted three hundred and fifty signatures in five days. Finnis has been accused of having “a long record of extremely discriminatory views against many groups of disadvantaged people”, including the LGBTQ community. Finnis co-teaches a series of seminars for postgraduate students who choose to take the jurisprudence and political theory course in the BCL or M.Jur degree.

Remarks highlighted by the authors of the petition as particularly discriminatory include a comment from his Collected Essays in which he suggests that homosexual conduct is “never a valid, humanly acceptable choice and form of life” and is “destructive of human character and relationships” because “it treats human sexual capacities in a way which is deeply hostile to the self-understanding of those members who are willing to commit themselves to real marriage”. This essay was published in 2011 but refers to arguments he made in a previous essay from 1994….

Professor Finnis told The Oxford Student that “The petition travesties my position, and my testimony in American constitutional litigation. Anyone who consults the Law Faculty website and follows the links in the petition can see the petition’s many errors. I stand by all these writings. There is not a ‘phobic’ sentence in them. The 1994 essay promotes a classical and strictly philosophical moral critique of all non-marital sex acts and has been republished many times, most recently by Oxford University Press in the third volume of my Collected Essays.”

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Philosophy, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

A Catholic Herald profile piece on Dorothy Day

Dorothy grew up with a secret longing for spiritual truth which she successfully ignored for a number of years in which she had an affair, was deserted by her feckless lover, had an abortion – “the great tragedy of her life” – twice attempted suicide, made a brief unsuccessful marriage and then entered into a common-law relationship which, paradoxically (God can use any circumstance to effect transformation, however seemingly unpropitious) was the direct cause of her conversion.

Living in a beach house on Staten Island during her last relationship, she unexpectedly became pregnant and felt that God had given her a second chance at motherhood. Not yet a Catholic she wanted baptism for her baby daughter, Tamar, while knowing that it would mean the end of her relationship to the anarchist and free spirit, Forster Batterham, with whom she had set up home.

Dorothy wrote later that it only slowly dawned on her that “worship, adoration, thanksgiving, supplication – these were the noblest acts of which men were capable in this life.” From her earliest years she had had a strong social conscience; now her Catholic faith gave her the spiritual underpinning to live out this deep humanitarian impulse and to love those at the bottom of the social heap for the rest of her life.

For Dorothy the acute question was, was it possible “to promote and live according to the ideas of Catholic Social teaching and philosophy in a way that would serve others and promote the common good?”

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Poverty, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Urban/City Life and Issues, Women

(NYT) Can the Roman Catholic Church ‘Evolve’ on L.G.B.T. Rights?

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) Adam O’Neal–Taking an honest look Inside the Christian group to which Amy Coney Barrett’s belongs

Judge Amy Coney Barrett could be President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court—a prospect that thrills many conservatives. A former Antonin Scalia clerk and Notre Dame professor, Judge Barrett, 46, seems an ideal choice. Yet her religious beliefs could lead to a contentious confirmation process. Would it be a risk to pick her?

Last year President Trump nominated Ms. Barrett for a seat on the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Several Democratic senators pondered whether an “orthodox Catholic” would have dual loyalties. “The dogma lives loudly within you,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein said during Ms. Barrett’s hearing. “That’s of concern.”

Video of Mrs. Feinstein’s religious test quickly spread, provoking outrage from thousands of Americans. Yet a New York Times news story suggested she and her colleagues hadn’t gone far enough: The nominee’s “membership in a small, tightly knit Christian group called People of Praise never came up at the hearing, and might have led to even more intense questioning.”

Richard Painter, a law professor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Minnesota, loved the article. He recently tweeted the link, adding his own comment on People of Praise: “A religious group in which members take an oath of loyalty to each other and are supervised by a male ‘head’ or female ‘handmaiden.’ That looks like a cult.” As nonbigots do, Mr. Painter then added, “don’t even try playing the ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ card.”

It’s easy to make People of Praise sound terrifying. Isn’t there a TV show and novel about these “handmaid” people? Do Americans really want a cultist on the Supreme Court? Despite such insinuations from “resistance” conspiracy theorists, understanding the group requires more than a couple of tweets….

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Supreme Court

(NPR) For A Church Defined By Tradition, Changing Catholic Doctrine Can Present A Problem

GJELTEN: Like other Catholic leaders, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki aims for a balance – serving his flock while also defending the faith. His emphasis is on what he calls the truth of church teachings over the years.

JEROME LISTECKI: To be consistent to that is important. Why – because when you start to push yourself away from that, that’s when you lose the uniqueness. If we’re supposed to be like everybody else in the secular world, then we’re not going to be the Catholic church.

GJELTEN: In fact, U.S. Catholics may already be less Catholic than they used to be. Fifty years ago, about half of all Catholic children in the U.S. were educated in Catholic schools. Now it’s less than 20 percent.

GAUTIER: It suggests a gradual social change occurring.

GJELTEN: Mary Gautier of Georgetown University.

GAUTIER: The American Catholic church I think is assimilating ever further into American popular culture.

Read or listen to it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NCR) First report by Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission in 13 years considers authority, role of laity

The official commission for dialogue between the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches has published its first document in 13 years, focusing on how each global institution can learn from the other in balancing exercise of ecclesial authority at the local, regional and worldwide levels.

Among the considerations in the 68-page report, released July 2, are questions of how the Catholic Church might learn from the Anglican experience to empower local church leaders to act more independently from Rome at times, and to give more governing authority to consultative bodies such as the Synod of Bishops.

“The Roman Catholic Church can learn from the culture of open and frank debate that exists at all levels of the Anglican Communion,” the members of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission state in one of the conclusions of their document, titled: “Walking Together on the Way: Learning to Be the Church — Local, Regional, Universal.”

“The Anglican practice of granting a deliberative role to synods and of investing authority in regional instruments of communion indicates that the Synod of Bishops could be granted a deliberative role and further suggests the need for the Roman Catholic Church to articulate more clearly the authority of episcopal conferences,” the document continues.

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Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Featured (Sticky), Roman Catholic

(PD) Gerard Bradley–The city of Philadelphia’s recent decision about Catholic Social Services: Learning to Live with Same-Sex Marriage?

The everyday challenge of Obergefell is whether those of us who hold the “decent and honorable religious” conviction that it is impossible for two persons of the same sex to marry will be accorded the legal and social space we need in order to live in accord with our convictions. The question at hand is whether we will instead be forced to contradict our convictions in word and deed, day in and day out. Chief Justice Roberts wrote in Obergefell:

Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage—when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples.

Just so.

Catholic Social Services vs. the City of Philadelphia

Last week (on May 16), Catholic Social Services and several foster care parents sued the city of Philadelphia to settle one of those “hard questions.” CSS was recently ranked by the city as the second best of the twenty-eight agencies with which it contracts for foster care placement and support. Its record of finding homes for difficult-to-place children is unsurpassed. On March 15 of this year the city announced that it was nonetheless suspending referrals to CSS. Because the city monopolizes these referrals, its decision was tantamount to closing down CSS’s foster care operation.

The hanging offense? Even though CSS avers in its complaint (prepared by lawyers from the Becket Fund, the great religious liberty firm) that it has never received a complaint from a same-sex couple, it does adhere to Church teaching about marriage. The complaint makes clear enough that CSS would conscientiously refuse to do the work prescribed by law to certify a same-sex “married” couple as foster parents. CSS would, however, refer them to other agencies that would.

Philadelphia is trying to drive these “decent and honorable” people from the field. The mayor is quoted in the CSS complaint as declaring that “we cannot use taxpayer dollars to fund organizations that discriminate against” people in same-sex marriages. “It’s just not right.” The city council professed to be shocked—shocked!—to discover that some contracting agencies have policies, rooted in religious beliefs, that prohibit placement of children with “LGBTQ people.” But the Catholic Church’s position on marriage is no secret. The CSS complaint even points out that the “City has been aware of Catholic Social Services’ religious beliefs for years.” For example, the city waived repeatedly for CSS the obligation of city contractors to provide benefits to same-sex spouses of employees.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Supreme Court, Urban/City Life and Issues

(WSJ) William McGurn–Meet Jimmy Kimmel’s Nun

In the popular culture, nuns are synonymous with discipline. There’s something to that, though it’s worth remembering the Latin root for “to discipline” is not “to punish” but “to teach.” As part of preparing their girls for the world, the Filippini sisters endeavor to show them, by example, that when St. Paul wrote that love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things, it was more than pretty words.

Sometimes love means being the one to deliver bad news; sometimes it’s telling a student to knock off the nonsense and start living up to her God-given potential; sometimes it’s just offering a shoulder to cry on for a girl feeling terribly lost and abandoned. Across our world there are thousands of women who, just like Sr. Pat, bring this love to bear daily in ministries from health care and education to helping victims of sexual trafficking. They are living out their promise to God to put the needs of others before their own.

Like many moms and dads, my wife and I have our anxious moments when we contemplate the future our daughters will inherit. Again like others, we pray for guidance. Then we send our daughters to Sr. Pat. They arrive as unsure and unformed girls—but leave as capable, confident and well-educated women.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Women

(CNA) Marriage and Communion: Roman Catholic Norms address interchurch couples

For the universal church and in the guidelines offered by different bishops’ conferences distinctions are made between the faithful of the Orthodox churches and the faithful of the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orthodox sacraments and welcomes members of the Orthodox churches to receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church, although it cautions that their Orthodox pastors and bishops might object.

The U.S. bishops’ brief guidelines, published in 1996, said, “Members of the Orthodox churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these churches.”

For Anglicans and Protestants, the situation is more complicated and Catholic church law requires that they “manifest Catholic faith in this sacrament,” as the directory phrased it.

Shared faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not unlikely, however, because it formally has been affirmed over the course of more than 50 years of formal theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

Therefore, the norms published by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, in 1999 stated, “Episcopalians and Lutherans can be presumed to believe in the real presence. For members of other communions there may be need for some further discussion concerning their belief in the Eucharist.”

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology

(CEN) Ways to renew the Church explored at Oxford Conference

Senior conservative evangelical Anglicans, Anglo-Catholics, members of the Ordinariate and Roman Catholic delegates met recently to reflect on how orthodox the faith and practice of Anglican patrimony might contribute to the renewal of the whole church.

The conference was told that renewal was needed in the face of the rejection of the influence of the Jewish Christian tradition on western society through deceptive totalitarian definitions of justice, equality and fairness.

This rejection was challenging religious freedom and freedom of speech. Delegates were told that religion has changed from being seen as a neurosis to an idolatry of the self, sacralising subjective experience and thus unravelling the objective Christian narrative.

The Gospel and the Catholic Church by Michael Ramsey was a main point of reference. Ramsey argues that the church itself should point to the depth of sin and judgement and the death and resurrection of Jesus, and speak of Jesus in such a way that the life of the church is included.

Read it all.”>Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Roman Catholic

(1st Things) George Weigel–Air Turbulence and the Resurrection

If there’s anything Catholics in the United States should have learned over the past two decades, it’s that order—in the world, the republic, and the Church—is a fragile thing. And by “order,” I don’t mean the same old same old. Rather, I mean the dynamic development of world politics, our national life, and the Church within stable reference points that guide us into the future.

Many of those reference points seem to have come unstuck, and that’s why we’re experiencing an unusual amount of air turbulence these days….Those who don’t remember the two decades immediately after Vatican II and haven’t taken the trouble to learn that history are understandably upset by the fragility of order in the Church today. But they should also understand that this is not 1968, or 1978, or even 1988, and that a lot of ballast was put into the Barque of Peter during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI. For all the challenges it faces, and despite the determination of some to revisit what they regard as the glorious Seventies, the Church in the U.S. is in far, far better condition to withstand the air turbulence of the moment than it was forty years ago. And that’s because truth, spoken winsomely and in charity, but without fudging, has proven a powerful instrument of evangelization and spiritual growth in a culture wallowing in various confusions.

At the bottom of the bottom line is the Resurrection. It’s entirely possible to hold fast to the truth that Jesus of Nazareth was raised by God to a new form of bodily life after his crucifixion and be deeply concerned about the state of the Church today. But it’s not possible to know the Risen Lord and to indulge in despair. Despair died on the cross and unshakeable hope was born at Easter. That’s why Easter faith is the surest anchor for all of us in turbulent times.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Easter, Ecclesiology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

A Story for Good Friday 2018–The Symbolism of French Officer Arnaud Beltrame’s Sacrifice (Terry Mattingly)

Father Jean-Baptiste insisted on adding other details, noting that Beltrame was raised in a nonreligious family, but experienced a “genuine conversion” at age 33. He entered the church in 2010, after two years of study. Beltrame was, the monk said, “intelligent, sporty, loud and lively,” a man who shared his faith with others.

On this side of the Atlantic, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia underlined the symbolism of this story. In a column entitled “A Lesson For Holy Week,” he said Beltrame was a civil servant doing his job and a “man in love getting ready for a wedding.” He was also a “man who deliberately shaped and disciplined his own life until it became a habit, a reflex, to place the well-being of others before his own.”

The archbishop concluded: “God’s ways are not human ways. They are other than ours; higher and better, more powerful, moving, and redemptive than our own. It isn’t logical, it isn’t ‘normal,’ for anyone to place his or her life in harm’s way for a friend, much less for a complete stranger as Arnaud Beltrame did. Only a special kind of love can make a person do something so unreasonably beautiful.”

Read it all (cited by yours truly in last night’s sermon).

Posted in Christology, France, Holy Week, Police/Fire, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism

(Crux) Vatican stages UN event to protest ‘genocide’ against Down Syndrome

While the United Nations has a stated commitment to protecting and promoting the lives of those with Down Syndrome, the Holy See believes some in the international community are abetting what one Washington Post columnist recently termed a “genocide” against such individuals.

At a United Nations event on Tuesday in anticipation of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, charged delegates with failing to uphold protections enshrined in international agreements to protect those with disabilities.

“Despite the commitments made in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including that of the right to life, by all persons with disabilities, so many members of the international community stand on the sidelines as the vast majority of those diagnosed with Trisomy-21 have their lives ended before they’re even born,” Auza said.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ) Cardinal Timothy Dolan–Why are the Democrats Abandoning Roman Catholics?

The values Archbishop Hughes and Dolores Grier cherished—the dignity and sanctity of human life, the importance of Catholic schools, the defense of a baby’s civil rights—were, and still are, widely embraced by Catholics. This often led Catholics to become loyal Democrats. I remember my own grandmother whispering to me, “We Catholics don’t trust those Republicans.”

Such is no longer the case, a cause of sadness to many Catholics, me included. The two causes so vigorously promoted by Hughes and Grier—the needs of poor and middle-class children in Catholic schools, and the right to life of the baby in the womb—largely have been rejected by the party of our youth. An esteemed pro-life Democrat in Illinois, Rep. Dan Lipinski, effectively was blacklisted by his own party. Last year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez insisted that pro-life candidates have no place in the modern Democratic Party.

It is particularly chilly for us here in the state Hughes and Grier proudly called their earthly home. In recent years, some Democrats in the New York state Assembly repeatedly blocked education tax credit legislation, which would have helped middle-class and low-income families make the choice to select Catholic or other nonpublic schools for their children. Opposing the bill reduces the ability of fine Catholic schools across the state to continue their mission of serving the poor, many of them immigrants.

More sobering, what is already the most radical abortion license in the country may soon be even more morbidly expanded. For instance, under the proposed Reproductive Health Act, doctors would not be required to care for a baby who survives an abortion. The newborn simply would be allowed to die without any legal implications. And abortions would be legal up to the moment of birth.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbishops of Armagh to reflect on ministry and legacy of Saint Patrick at Armagh annual lecture

On Friday 16 March, the eve of Saint Patrick’s Day, the two Archbishops of Armagh, Archbishop Eamon Martin and Church of Ireland Archbishop Richard Clarke will join together to host the annual Saint Patrick’s Lecture at at 11.00 am in the Market Place Theatre in Armagh.

At the lecture the Archbishops will reflect on ministry and legacy of our National Patron, Saint Patrick. Following the lecture, UTV presenter Sarah Clarke will host a discussion with the Archbishops on the words of Saint Patrick, and how his message still resonates and holds relevance for many of the challenges faced by people today.

Reflecting on the life of our National Patron ahead of the event, Archbishop Martin said, ‘Saint Patrick, himself a migrant, was called to serve and bring God to a people far from his home. I encourage the faithful at this time to pray for migrants, and all who struggle to live and integrate into new cultures, at home and abroad, arising from displacement and poverty.’

Read it all.

Posted in --Ireland, Church History, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Roman Catholic

(Guardian) Vatican hosts first hackathon to tackle global issues

The Vatican is to host its first hackathon this week, harnessing the technological skills and creativity of students from more than 50 universities around the world to tackle issues identified as priorities by Pope Francis.

About 120 students and 35 mentors will gather in Rome over three days to focus on social inclusion, migrants and refugees, and interfaith dialogue.

“The aim is to bring people with backgrounds in technology, business, civil society and the humanities together to bring new perspectives to key global issues,” said Father Eric Salobir, a Catholic priest and president of the research and innovation network Optic.

The VHacks event is being organised in partnership with some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Google and Microsoft.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

Archbishop Justin Welby and Cardinal Vincent Nichols call on Israeli government to protect Jerusalem holy sites

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, and the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, have called on the Israeli government to protect the status quo at the holy sites in Jerusalem.

In a joint letter to the Israeli Ambassador to London, Mark Regev, the two faith leaders expressed their deep concern at the events unfolding in Jerusalem of unprecedented, punitive and discriminatory taxation of Christian Institutions, and their fears that this dispute could inflict long-term damage on relations between the two communities.

Read it all.

Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecumenical Relations, Israel, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Christian Today) Could Roman Catholic weddings take place in Church of England buildings?

Catholic weddings could take place in Church of England buildings in what would be a radical change to marriage law in the UK.

A bill to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday would allow other denominations to hold their own wedding services in CofE churches, meaning Catholic marriage vows could be heard in parish buildings for the first time since the Reformation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Robert Sirico–What I Learned From Michael Novak

I first read Michael Novak’s groundbreaking work “The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism” when it was published in 1982, before I entered seminary at the Catholic University of America. The book’s dialogue between economics and theology made a deep impression on me, as it did thousands of others. I wrote the author and asked if we might meet once I arrived in Washington. Thus began a friendship that lasted until Novak’s death last year.

The first anniversary of his passing, Feb. 17, comes at a difficult time. Americans face an uncertain economy and deadlocked government. A vocal critic of capitalism leads the Catholic Church. Young people are showing a strange attraction to socialism, as are many Christians who might have been expected to sustain Novak’s philosophy of virtuous capitalism. The U.S. lacks leaders who combine prudence and moral vision.

I was intrigued to find a theologian who was familiar with writers like Friedrich Hayek. I sought his mentorship as I began my theological studies at a time when much of the academy was enamored with Marxist “liberation theology.” I even suggested that Novak squarely address that movement, which he did in another book, “Will It Liberate? Questions About Liberation Theology” (1986).

Even though we were from different generations, I soon found many parallels in our intellectual and religious trajectories. We had both identified as men of the left in early life. Over time we moved from advocating some form of democratic socialism to supporting the free economy. We spent decades defending free-market democracy as the system that best reflected the truth about man.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Tablet) Lord [Rowan] Williams: the environmental crisis is a toxic expression of humanity’s failures

Lord Williams of Oystermouth was speaking on Monday night at St Mary’s University, Twickenham, where he gave an address on Pope Francis’ green encyclical, Laudato Si’.

He praised the encyclical for highlighting that the Christian understanding of “who is my neighbour?’’ should embrace the whole of creation and that humanity’s treatment of the environment is self-destructive.

“For the Christian, the doctrine of creation is a declaration that all that is comes from God”, said Lord Williams. “But as Pope Francis says, it is not enough to avoid environmental disaster, to love our neighbour and ourselves…we have to ask how do we live in such a way to receive from God”.

Lord Williams, now the Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, reserved his staunchest criticism for contemporary approaches to education.

“Children need to know what beauty is and we need to think how this can be nurtured and developed in education. We have increasingly lost sight of education as a humanising task,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Education, Energy, Natural Resources, Ethics / Moral Theology, Roman Catholic, Theology

(WSJ) Mark Simon: Who Made Xi Jinping Pope? A Vatican-China deal is imminent. Millions of Chinese Catholics should be afraid.

Ever since the red flag rose over China in 1949, Roman Catholics there have suffered because of their fidelity to the pope in Rome. Now the Holy Father himself has become a source of tribulation. In its eagerness to reach a deal with China, the Vatican is elevating the persecutors over the persecuted.

Xi Jinping, an atheist and hard-line communist, became leader of China in 2012. The Chinese government has since stepped up its violations of human rights, including religious freedom. This is no accident. In 2016 President Xi declared that all party members should be “firm Marxist atheists and never find any of their beliefs in any religion.” The following year, in a speech that emphasized the dominance of the Communist Party over all Chinese life, he said the government would work to “Sinicize” religion—a euphemism for total control over the faith.

Against this backdrop, for some reason Pope Francis and his Vatican diplomatic corps think now is a good time to deal with Beijing. Given Mr. Xi’s view that religion is often a cover for anti-regime activities, it is hard to see him accommodating anything other than total surrender. Fortunately for Mr. Xi, Pope Francis is on the other side of the table….

Read it all.

Posted in China, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(CH) Festus Iyorah–Why are young Nigerians abandoning the R Catholic Church for Pentecostalism?

Susan Onyedika was born 22 years ago into a Catholic family in Lagos, Nigeria’s bustling commercial city. When she was a child, she took part in the Block Rosary Crusade (where an image of the Virgin Mary visits family homes), as well as catechism classes in her parish. But as she matured into a teenager she started having doubts about the faith she had practised from childhood. In her secondary school, she met Pentecostal Christians and began to compare their beliefs with those of Catholics.

“I needed more spiritually,” she tells me. “I needed to understand the Scriptures. They [the Catholic Church] don’t break down the Bible for you. They don’t pray the way most Pentecostals pray.

“I also had issues with praying through Mary because I feel that you can reach God directly, you can talk to him directly. You don’t have to go through someone to intercede for you.”

Susan joined her secondary school fellowship without telling her parents or siblings. “They didn’t know I joined the Pentecostals,” she remembers. “They were not aware. Just my close friends were.”

Read it all.

Posted in Africa, Nigeria, Pentecostal, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(RNS) In Germany, Some in the Roman Catholic Church grapple with blessings for same-sex marriage

The country’s Protestant churches already offer gay couples at least a blessing ceremony, if not a full church marriage, and even the main association for lay Catholics supports allowing blessings. While Pope Francis has ruled out approving gay marriage, he raised expectations of some kind of reform early in his papacy by famously asking “who am I to judge?” about gay people.

“Even though ‘marriage for all’ clearly differs from the church’s understanding of marriage, it is now a political reality,” Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück, the deputy chairman of the German Bishops Conference, said earlier this month.

“We have to ask ourselves how we should deal with people who tie this knot. Some of them are active in the church. So how are we going to accompany them with pastoral care and in the liturgy?” Bode asked. “We could think about giving them a blessing.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(1st Things) Richard John Neuhaus: on behalf of the unborn, We shall not Weary, We shall not rest

The following address, described by Robert P. George as “the greatest pro-life speech ever given,” was delivered by Richard John Neuhaus at the close of the 2008 convention of the National Right to Life Committee. —[1st Things] Ed.

We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every unborn child is protected in law and welcomed in life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until all the elderly who have run life’s course are protected against despair and abandonment, protected by the rule of law and the bonds of love. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, until every young woman is given the help she needs to recognize the problem of pregnancy as the gift of life. We shall not weary, we shall not rest, as we stand guard at the entrance gates and the exit gates of life, and at every step along the way of life, bearing witness in word and deed to the dignity of the human person—of every human person.

Against the encroaching shadows of the culture of death, against forces commanding immense power and wealth, against the perverse doctrine that a woman’s dignity depends upon her right to destroy her child, against what St. Paul calls the principalities and powers of the present time, this convention renews our resolve that we shall not weary, we shall not rest, until the culture of life is reflected in the rule of law and lived in the law of love.

It has been a long journey, and there are still miles and miles to go. Some say it started with the notorious Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 when, by what Justice Byron White called an act of raw judicial power, the Supreme Court wiped from the books of all fifty states every law protecting the unborn child. But it goes back long before that. Some say it started with the agitation for “liberalized abortion law” in the 1960s when the novel doctrine was proposed that a woman cannot be fulfilled unless she has the right to destroy her child. But it goes back long before that. It goes back to the movements for eugenics and racial and ideological cleansing of the last century.

Whether led by enlightened liberals, such as Margaret Sanger, or brutal totalitarians, whose names live in infamy, the doctrine and the practice was that some people stood in the way of progress and were therefore non-persons, living, as it was said, “lives unworthy of life.” But it goes back even before that. It goes back to the institution of slavery in which human beings were declared to be chattel property to be bought and sold and used and discarded at the whim of their masters. It goes way on back.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(Telegraph) Roman Catholic bishop says churches should stay open like the Church of England

Catholic churches should follow the Church of England to keep their doors open outside of services, the bishop of Portsmouth has said.

Philip Egan complained that on a recent visit outside his diocese he had been unable to visit any churches because they had all been shut.

In a Tweet posted on Sunday he said: “Why oh why?! Just spent a few days outside the Diocese but every Catholic church I tried to visit was locked.

“One even had the utter hypocrisy to display a poster ‘From Maintenance to Mission’! Why is this, when every Anglican Church is welcomely open?”

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(AJ) Saskatchewan Anglicans share church with Roman Catholics

In the early afternoon of Christmas Eve, 2016, Chad Geis, chair of the pastoral council at the Roman Catholic Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qu’Appelle, Sask., arrived at the church he had known since his childhood to get things ready for the Christmas morning mass.

From the moment he stepped in, it was clear something was amiss. It was oddly cold inside. The thermometer read -5° C. Christmas services ended up being cancelled at the church while Geis tried to find out what was wrong with the boiler.

Two and a half blocks away, at St. Peter’s Anglican Church, there were no Christmas services planned either. Its congregation of eight to 10 active members receives sacramental ministry once a month from a retired priest who also ministers to other churches, and they wanted to offer the priest the option of putting on a service at a larger church with more children, says warden Jean Kurbis. So Kurbis and some other parishioners had made plans to attend the Christmas service at the Roman Catholic church instead. When they arrived on Christmas Day, they were surprised to see a sign bearing the words “Closed until further notice” on the door.

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Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Ecumenical Relations, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Economist Erasmus Blog) [Some] Evangelicals and Catholics react in different ways to the president’s proclamation about Jerusalem

Paula White, a megachurch pastor from Florida who is a member of the president’s faith advisory council, said: “Evangelicals are ecstatic, for Israel is to us a sacred place and the Jewish people are our dearest friends.” She has repeatedly hailed Mr Trump as a man uniquely sensitive to God’s “divine plan” and willing to take counsel from Christian leaders like herself as to how that plan should be helped along.

Those sentiments are typical of an inner circle of evangelicals that helped to bring Mr Trump to power and that has pressed him to keep his Israel-friendly promises.

Meanwhile Pope Francis spoke of his “deep concern” about the situation created by Mr Trump’s move, given the disruption of a delicate equilibrium in the governance of the sacred city and its holy sites. “I wish to make a heartfelt appeal to ensure that everyone is committed to respecting the status quo of the city, in accordance with the relevant resolutions of the United Nations,” he said on December 6th. Some 13 leaders of Jerusalem’s traditional Christian communities, including the Orthodox and the Catholics who are guardians of the city’s holy places, warned of “increased hatred, conflict, violence and suffering in Jerusalem and the Holy Land” as a likely result of Mr Trump’s initiative.

These contrasting reactions typify two utterly different schools of Christian theology.

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Posted in Evangelicals, Israel, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Theology