Category : Roman Catholic

(CNA) In talk at Facebook, RC Bishop Robert Barron tackles how to debate religion

If one goes on social media, he said, “you’ll see a lot of energy around religious issues. There will be a lot of words exchanged, often angry ones, but very little argument.”

Bishop Barron praised the intellectual tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas and his time’s treatment of disputed questions. A professor would gather in a public place and entertain objections and questions.

“What’s off the table? Nothing as far as I can tell,” the bishop summarized. He cited the way St. Thomas Aquinas made the case for disbelief in God before presenting the arguments for rational belief in God.

“If you can say ‘I wonder whether there’s a God,’ that means all these questions are fine and fair,” Bishop Barron continued. “I like the willingness to engage any question.”

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) CC Pecknold on the very troubling recent Senate questioning of a recent Roman Catholic Judicial Nominee

…at the very moment Ms. Feinstein is alienating religious conservatives, two prominent Democrats are pushing a new progressive claim on Christianity. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has spoken to journalists about how her faith shapes her political views. And Hillary Clinton, who reportedly once considered becoming an ordained minister, has made religion central to her postelection messaging, as the Atlantic reported last month in a story titled “ Hillary Wants to Preach.”

Sens. Feinstein and Durbin were troubled not by Ms. Barrett’s Catholicism, but by her failure to prove her religion could conform to a more dogmatic progressivism. The “religious test” Democrats want to impose isn’t about religion per se; it’s about ensuring that every religious claim can be bent to more comprehensive political aims. It’s about defining anyone who dissents from the mores of the sexual revolution as disqualified from public office. That’s what makes Ms. Feinstein’s questioning so chilling.

Few liberals have spoken out against these religious tests, providing tacit consent for the Democratic Party to continue the practice. One of America’s major political parties appears prepared to consent to a very different kind of creed from the one the American founders envisioned. Our forefathers understood religious freedom in positive terms, as freedom for the highest good, God. This “first freedom” was held as the basis of all the political freedoms, including the freedom to dissent and to disagree on matters of law and politics.

Ms. Barrett has spent her career honoring the older creed—not only with her Scalia-like deference to the law, but through respect for freedom of religion and conscience. Ms. Feinstein honored the new creed, the one dividing an already polarized nation. A dogmatism now threatens countless Americans’ freedom, and it isn’t Catholicism.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate

(NR) Did Senators Durbin and Feinstein try to Impose a Religious Test for Office when questioning nominee Amy Barrett?

A judicial confirmation hearing this week stoked fears among conservatives that it is becoming acceptable on the American left to voice intensely anti-Christian sentiments.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing for Amy Coney Barrett — a law professor at the University of Notre Dame and President Trump’s nominee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals — during which two senators, Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) and Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), suggested that Barrett’s Catholic faith might disqualify her from serving as a judge.

“When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said. “And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for for years in this country.”

Durbin, meanwhile, criticized Barrett’s prior use of the term “orthodox Catholic,” saying it unfairly maligns Catholics who do not hold certain positions about abortion or the death penalty. “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” he asked her outright.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate, Theology

(WSJ) Cardinal Robert Sarah–How Catholics Can Welcome LGBT Believers

Among Catholic priests, one of the most outspoken critics of the church’s message with regard to sexuality is Father James Martin, an American Jesuit. In his book “Building a Bridge,” published earlier this year, he repeats the common criticism that Catholics have been harshly critical of homosexuality while neglecting the importance of sexual integrity among all of its followers.

Father Martin is correct to argue that there should not be any double standard with regard to the virtue of chastity, which, challenging as it may be, is part of the good news of Jesus Christ for all Christians. For the unmarried—no matter their attractions—faithful chastity requires abstention from sex.

This might seem a high standard, especially today. Yet it would be contrary to the wisdom and goodness of Christ to require something that cannot be achieved. Jesus calls us to this virtue because he has made our hearts for purity, just as he has made our minds for truth. With God’s grace and our perseverance, chastity is not only possible, but it will also become the source for true freedom.

We do not need to look far to see the sad consequences of the rejection of God’s plan for human intimacy and love. The sexual liberation the world promotes does not deliver its promise. Rather, promiscuity is the cause of so much needless suffering, of broken hearts, of loneliness, and of treatment of others as means for sexual gratification. As a mother, the church seeks to protect her children from the harm of sin, as an expression of her pastoral charity.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Archbp Justin Welby’s Statement on the Death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

Cormac was a good friend to Anglicans at home and internationally. As the Catholic co-chair of the second phase of the Anglican – Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC II) he lent both his customary good humour and his theological acumen to the production of some of the most influential of ecumenical agreed texts of the twentieth century. At a time when others bemoaned the lack of instant progress in ecumenical relations, Cormac saw the work of ARCIC as an investment and a building block for future closer relations. At home he was notable for his support for interchurch families and, whilst he was Rector of the Venerable English College in Rome, for the support and encouragement of a scheme that is still going giving Church of England ordinands the opportunity to study in Rome. He cared for Anglican leaders he knew, encouraged and supported them, drawing them into the fellowship of Christ.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Announcing the Death of Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(The Australian) Paul Kelly: Rights clash looms in Australian same-sex debate

[Professor Patrick] Parkinson says: “While the case in international human rights law for saying that same-sex marriage is a human right is very weak, the case for protecting religious freedom, and in particular freedom of conscience, is quite overwhelming. There have been numerous bills introduced in parliament to enact same-sex marriage over the last few years and what has been common to most of them has been a minimalist protection for freedom of conscience.”

The plebiscite idea originated with Peter Dutton. Its implementation via the Bureau of Statistics came from Brandis. But it will occur only with the approval of the High Court and nobody can second-guess that outcome. Smith is right when he says his bill has more protections than anything likely to come from a Labor government. But this cannot gainsay the gaping hole left in this pivotal area of our national life and values.

For years the typical response from politicians to the religious freedom issue has been patronising and dismissive, buttressed by the claim that religious ministers would be protected. Any notion that will suffice is ludicrous.

The resistance falls into three categories: those who care only about achieving same-sex marriage; those who think protection around the ceremony is the only issue that matters; and those, like the champions of progressive ideology, who see this social change as an integral step in driving religion from the public square.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology

(First Things) Matthew Schmitz responds to Fr. James Martin’s new book arguing for a change in Roman Catholic sexual ethics

So I agree with Fr. Martin that an intolerable tension now exists in the Church’s attitude toward sex, but I disagree about how that tension should be resolved. More than Allah or Christ, sex is the great god worshipped across the globe. What one of our greatest Catholic commentators calls the “horny industrial complex” rules the world: selling products, justifying the destruction of families, impelling the transformation of law. Fr. Martin wants the Church to make a more perfect peace with this god. I want it to offer more consistent resistance.

Regrettably, but unavoidably, resisting untruth will require Catholics to be rude. This is why, much as I sympathize with certain points he makes, I reject Fr. Martin’s call for civility. Either the Catholic Church is right in what it teaches about human sexuality, or it is wrong. A great many people are convinced that the latter is the case—and thus that any expression of the Church’s teaching on homosexual acts will be insensitive and disrespectful. There is no phrasing so artful, no speaker so refined, that Catholic teaching can be pronounced without offense.

This seems to be Fr. Martin’s view. As far as I can tell, he has never found words in which to defend Catholic teaching on homosexuality. This fact is striking. If Fr. Martin, with his winning smile and pleasing voice, his rigorous Jesuit formation and gilded Wharton degree, his friendships with celebrities and appointment at the Vatican, cannot find a polite way to express Christian teaching, then no one can. No Catholic priest is more at home in fashionable society. No modern spiritual master is better equipped to make the faith clubbable. Judging by Fr. Martin’s silence, it simply cannot be done. On homosexuality, and not just on homosexuality, Christian teaching inevitably offends.

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(ERoB) Joseph Johnson reviews Peter Kreeft’s new book “Catholics and Protestants: What Can We Learn from Each Other?”

For me, Kreeft is most moving when talking about the need for Catholics and Protestants to clear away the pernicious stereotypes and caricatures that have built up over the centuries. In order to move towards reunion, he rightly urges us to really listen to each other with more depth, patience, and humility (72). When this happens, we can discover deeper levels of mutual understanding and better remember that, despite the differences, we still ultimately belong to the same Body of Christ. We may even find echoes of perspectives that we hold dear in unexpected places. Now of course, it’s true that merely listening to each other better (as necessary as that is) won’t automatically dissolve the theological issues that continue to divide Catholics and Protestants. But, Kreeft dares to hope that as we better understand one another, and seek together to follow Christ more closely, we may be surprised to find eventual healing for these areas of division (80). As evidence of this, he points to the joint Catholic-Lutheran Decree on Justification, which Kreeft is convinced shows that, “The single greatest obstacle to reunion, by far the most important religious difference between Protestants and Catholics, has essentially been overcome” (17).

The latter part of the book contains a number of longer chapters exploring some of the central issues that stand in the way of reunion, including Catholic doctrines about Mary, the relationship between Scripture and Tradition, and matters of ecclesiology. In these chapters, as in the earlier parts of the book, Kreeft’s style is personal and aimed at making the subject matter understandable for the non-specialists among us. I’ll admit that I wasn’t persuaded by all of his arguments, but I incline to think that that isn’t especially the point. If a necessary step towards ecumenical reunion is better understanding each other, then Protestants like me must value our Catholic friends enough to spend time honestly letting them explain how the issues look from their point of view, with the presuppositions they bring to the table. I think that is one of the best ways to get past simplistic misunderstandings about how the “other side” practices their faith.

Read it all.

Posted in Books, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

([London] Times) Roman Catholics are now largest faith group among inmates in England and Wales

Anglicanism has been toppled as the biggest religious denomination among prisoners in England and Wales for the first time.

Roman Catholics are the largest group of believers behind bars after years of steady decline in the number of Anglicans, official figures show. There are also only 1,500 fewer Muslim prisoners than Anglicans after their number rose more than sixfold since 1993.

The figures point to a huge change in the make-up of the jail population, which calls into question the historical role of the Church of England in the prison service.

Read it all and Christian Today also has an article there.

Posted in England / UK, Prison/Prison Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Let Christian chastity be our guide, not the world, Scottish R Catholic Bishop says

A chaste life and closeness to Christ is the vocation of every Christian, Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell has said in response to questions about ministry to people with same-sex attraction.

“Our saints are our models in this journey of faith and life, and it is good to be led by the example of their commitment to fulfilling God’s will rather than our own particular desires,” Bishop Toal said July 26. “As Catholics we pray always for the wisdom to make wise choices and to be guided by Christ rather than the world around us.”

He cited recent questions about possible approaches to pastoral care to people who experience same-sex attraction, noting that the apostolate of Courage has been recommended to him. This ministry “encourages those who live with same-sex attraction to live a chaste life – which is also expected of all heterosexual Catholics who are not married – supported by the sacramental and prayer life of the Church.”

“Many scoff at this option as unrealistic in today’s societies in which intimate same-sex relationships are condoned and have been afforded the status of marriage in some countries, but that is the way of life proposed in the Church’s tradition and the Church invites her children to abide by it,” he continued.

Read it all.

Posted in --Scotland, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(National Affairs) Alan Jacobs–When Character No Longer Counts

These leaders have replaced a rhetoric of persuasion with a rhetoric of pure authority — very like the authority that Trump claims for himself. (“Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”) Consequently, their whole house of cards may well collapse if the Trump presidency is anything other than a glorious success, and will leave those who have accepted that rhetoric bereft of explanations as well as arguments. Presumably the most fervent supporters of Trump will argue (as Trump himself will argue) that his failures have occurred because others have betrayed him, have rejected the man that God raised up to rescue America, but this will require the replacement of the Cyrus analogy with another one yet to be determined. We can only hope that no one compares a failed Trump to an American Jesus betrayed by American Judases.

If all this sounds like a strange fantasyland of narrative, an imaginative world of what members of the Trump administration have taken to calling “alternative facts,” that’s because it is just that. The larger, and longer-term, effect of accounts like this is to encourage Christians to abandon the world of shared evidence, shared convictions, and shared possibilities, and such abandonment is very bad news for Christians and for America.

What is required of serious religious believers in a pluralistic society is the ability to code-switch: never to forget or neglect their own native religious tongue, but also never to forget that they live in a society of people for whom that language is gibberish. To speak only in the language of pragmatism is to bring nothing distinctive to the table; to speak only a private language of revelation and self-proclaimed authority is to leave the table altogether. For their own good, but also for the common good, religious believers need to be always bilingually present.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Donald Trump, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Tablet) The Australian R Catholic Church opposes Victoria euthanasia legislation

Archbishop Hart commended efforts to strengthen and better resource Palliative Care but said that was a minimum necessity.

“While the report recommends what it calls safeguards, the truth is that these safeguards are never going to be enough and that there are no flawless medical procedures,” he said. “All procedures and interventions can have complications. I have watched supporters of this proposal and they are going out of their way to convince us that assisted suicide is acceptable, seeking to lessen our human, moral and natural distress because of suicide.

“It seems that on the one hand we are seeking to lessen suicide in our society – an admirable aim – but here we have this report looking to normalise it. When viewed from the perspective of the whole Victorian community these two objectives cannot be reconciled.”

The archbishop said the legislation would impose extraordinary and unreasonable responsibilities on medical professionals, who would be called upon to determine which patients were eligible and how the safeguards were to be applied. This then became a matter for decisions by medical practitioners and not the patients for whom they were required to care.

Read it all.

Posted in Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, Australia / NZ, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(America) Drew Christiansen: Catholic-evangelical relations are richer than the conspiracies Civilta Cattolica described

In a recent editorial, “Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism: A Surprising Ecumenism,” Civilta Cattolica identified cooperation between Protestant fundamentalists and conservative American Catholics as “a problematic fusion between religion and state, faith and politics, religious values and economy.” Civilta particularly attacked the Prosperity Gospel as a stream of popular theology opposed to Catholic social teaching as advanced by Pope Francis.

Catholic-evangelical relations in the United States, however, are richer and more nuanced than the fearsome conspiracies Civilta described. Take, for example, the Evangelical Environmental Network.

EEN is a nimble coalition of some 700 congregations. Whatever the issue, it has been quick out of the blocks with arresting public relations campaigns. Were gas-guzzling autos a threat to clean air? EEN offered America “WWJD,” the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign. Were animal species threatened with extinction? Then an EEN spokesman would appear on late-night TV a wildcat draped across his shoulders.

Read it all and make sure to read the piece he is responding.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Evangelicals, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) The Martyrdom of Jacques Hamel; After the murder, his archbishop asked God for help loving his enemies. It worked

Dominique Lebrun, the archbishop of Rouen, France, was attending the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day in Poland last July when the news came. One of his priests, 85-year-old Father Jacques Hamel, had been murdered by Islamic State-inspired terrorists while celebrating morning mass on July 26.

Archbishop Lebrun soon received an urgent request from François Hollande, then the French president. Fearful of civil unrest between the nation’s Christians and Muslims, Mr. Hollande requested the archbishop speak with him before making any public statements. “What will you say?” the president asked the archbishop. “I am going to pray and ask God to help me love my enemies,” he replied.

A few months later, Mr. Hollande admitted the prelate had stunned him: He actually seemed to believe what he was saying, and his tone of forgiveness and reconciliation was crucial after the attack. The following week Muslims throughout the country were encouraged by Islamic leaders to attend Mass as a show of solidarity with their Catholic neighbors.

The killing moved millions of people, including Pope Francis. In September the pope described Hamel as a martyr. He urged Catholics to ask for the intercession of the late priest so that he “gives us the courage to say the truth: to kill in the name of God is satanic….”

Read it all.

Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, France, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Violence