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Some Specifics
Wed May 9 2018  10:45amReligious/Rant

Having complained about "a massive, collective clerical desertion" in the Church, it would be reasonable to detail a few specifics. Let me start with some quotes from the papal press conference of 28 July 2013 following the WYD in Brazil:

A French correspondent at that meeting asked Pope Francis about concrete measures he would offer women in the Church. In part, his answer was, "...The role of women in the Church is not simply that of maternity, being mothers, but much greater... the role of women in the Church must not be limited to being mothers, workers, a limited role..."    WHAT?!?    Motherhood - that radical vocation of bringing new life into the world, and then nurturing, protecting, and teaching her children the Faith - this is now 'a limited role' ? To what 'greater' role can he possibly be alluding? No mention of consecrated virginity, and, anyway, he wouldn't be able to take credit for discovering that vocation.

He goes on to say, "...we have much more to do in making explicit this role and charism of women..." I suppose he must be thinking of some quasi-clerical role, which would necessarily be something other than full priesthood. Are feminists cheering this patronizing condescension? How about you Catholic mothers and you consecrated virgins, what do you think? I wonder what the great women saints, what the Blessed Virgin Mary would have to say about this prelate's promise to discover a new and more important place for them.


Who is he to judge?
In the same response, Francis went on to say, "...For me, the women of Paraguay are the most glorious women in Latin America. Are you paraguayo? After the war, there were eight women for every man, and these women made a rather difficult decision: the decision to bear children in order to save their country, their culture, their faith, and their language..." So - the role of Christian mothers is belittled as 'limited', while openly polygamous women are 'glorious' role models? Such confused misogyny is not only un-Catholic, it's un-civilized! (By the way, he doesn't specify exactly what faith and what culture the polygamous paraguayas were saving. It certainly wasn't Catholicism.)

In the same press conference, a Brazilian reporter asked why Pope Francis had not addressed (while in Brazil) the newly passed measures legalizing abortion and same-sex 'marriage'. Francis refused to comment, saying "it wasn't necessary to speak of it". Three times she asked for clarification, and three times he demurred. This is a clear example of a heresy of omission: deliberate silence where a clear and prophetic voice is sorely needed.

Finally, Pope Francis uttered his now-infamous "Who am I to judge?" when asked about alleged pro-gay activists within the Vatican. Which is to confess that he is not their pastor. I may have more to say later on this particular cop-out.

The above quotes are all from just one press conference, about 4 months into the Francis papacy. True, nothing was said ex cathedra. But the absence of retractions or clarifications since then is quite damning. Indeed, Francis has subsequently muddied the waters more and more with remarks implicitly or explicitly in support of a variety of heresies:

  • On contraception:
    From a 2015 press conference:
    I believe that the number of three per family, which you mentioned, is important, according to the experts, for maintaining the population. Three per couple...That is why the key phrase for responding is one which the Church constantly uses, as I do: it is "responsible parenthood". How does this work? With dialogue. Each person with his or her pastor has to try to exercise this responsible parenthood.

    The example I mentioned just now, about the woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven caesarean births: this is a form of irresponsibility.
    [Some might say:] "No, I trust in God". "But, look, God gives you the means, be responsible". Some people believe that - pardon my language - in order to be good Catholics, we should be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood.
    Here's a news flash: the Church does not constantly say "responsible parenthood". Margaret Sanger, maybe, not the Church. The true Church does say "trust in God". Natural Law and the principles of true Religion dictate that the married couple do what married couples do, and trust God for the results (Gen.1:28). None of us are masters of our own life or our own fertility. Periodic continence by mutual consent for legitimate religious or moral purposes, OK. But the very moment a couple decides to repress their own fertility - whether zero or three or any other magic number, whether in consultation with their pastor or other expert - the very second they do so they are in sinful rebellion against God's sovereignty over human life.

  • On universal salvation:
    From a August 2017 audience: "...where God will welcome all mankind so as to dwell with them definitively..." This is ostensibly a quote from Rev.21:3, but he's added the word 'all', and fails to mention Rev.21:8

    From a October 2017 audience: "...in that same future there will be Christ's return. No one knows when this will take place, but the thought that at the end of our history there will be Merciful Jesus suffices in order to have faith and not to curse life. Everything will be saved. Everything."

    From a homily (date unknown): "The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone!"

  • On evangelizing:
    In an ecumenical conference, a teenage Christian girl asked about witnessing to her unchurched friends, to which Francis replied, "It is not licit to convince them of your faith; proselytism is the strongest poison against the ecumenical path."

Nor is it just a problem of one non-Catholic pope. The college of cardinals must have known who they were electing in 2013, and by their subsequent silence and cooperation they must approve his soft heresy. Further evidence of this was the 2014 Synod of Bishops led by Francis in which they discussed the possibility of changing Church teaching on marriage. Or, even before the Francis papacy, the cardinal who publicly denied the sacrificial nature of Christ's death on the Cross! (with no reproach or discipline from Rome.)

I could go on and on. But, lest this turn into an even longer and more tedious blog post, let me be content with the above few specifics. I hope soon to return to more general opining. Like, How did this happen? and, What to do about it?

  0 comments
rev. Sat May 12  8:21am
 
Crisis of Authority
Fri April 20 2018  10:40amReligious/Rant

The previous article noted the difference between God-given authority and contrived human authority, and noted that the natural God-given authority of a husband, a mother, a pastor must be honored, both by those subject to the authority and by the one wielding it.

The Family

God
 
   
 
   
Dad
  
 
Mom
   
   
   
kids
The most basic form of God-given authority is that of the natural family. The authority therein moves in a sort of chain of command: originating in God, flowing through the husband to his wife, and from both to their children.

I want to stress that the family is the most basic of all human authority, the beginning of all human governance, the very foundation of civilization. Period. Full stop. End of paragraph.

Is such authority absolute? Of course not. Naturally, authority given by God is subject to God. The husband, for example, may not tell his wife to do something contrary to the moral Law of God. If he does, his authority in that case is invalid, and the wife may have to disobey her husband so as to remain obedient to the higher authority of God.

One more point: The chain of command is a matter of order, not of superiority or inferiority. God is, of course, the Supreme Being. But the husband is not a superior being to his wife, nor are Mom and Dad superior to their kids. To rule does not necessarily mean true superiority; to obey does not mean inferiority. (This becomes theologically important in the next section, with regard to God the Father and God the Son.)

The Church

God the
Father
       
     
Christ
     
Apostles
     
Church
     
Bible
Chronologically later and of secondary importance is the ecclesiastic authority established by Christ. As above, there is a definite chain of command here. (Contrary to Martin Luther's Sola Scriptura doctrine, the Church built upon the foundation of apostolic authority is the true teacher and interpreter of Scripture, not vice-versa.)

As above, the human players in this chain of command are not autonomous, but are always subject to higher authority. Catholic pastors have an obligation to teach the Truth of Christ as handed down through the apostles. They may not change the teachings of the Church; that's not how apostolic authority works. Still less can they presume to second guess the older, more basic, more natural and more sacred authority of the family, nor redesign the structure thereof. And yet, that is precisely what many - perhaps most - bishops are wanting to do today: arrogate to themselves clerical power to grant ecclesiastic permission for easy annulments, divorce and re-marriage, contraception, even same-sex unions.

The Crisis

Beginning over 8 years ago, I began to acknowledge this crisis of Catholic authority: namely, the bishops' collective failure to remain true to Catholic teaching. Even wrote a few articles in my old Blogspot blog on that theme [1][2], culminating in an April 2015 article in which I puzzled over the apparent defection of Catholic hierarchy.

As mentioned above, a crisis of authority may arise in the family if the husband departs from his rightful God-given role. At what point does the father's failure amount to complete abdication and desertion of his duties? Is that what divorce means? Similarly, at what point does a pastor's apostasy amount to abdication and desertion? At what point does a massive, collective clerical desertion spell the end of Catholic unity? Have we reached that point?

Suffice it to say I am still puzzling over how we've arrived at this crisis, and what, if anything, to do about it. Perhaps these past couple blog posts have been my attempt to sort things out in my own mind by putting my thoughts into writing. Probably more blog articles to follow.

  4 comments
rev. Fri Apr 20  3:26pm
 
Theocracy
Sat March 17 2018  6:40pmReligious/Rant

There is correspondence between the verbs 'depend' and 'obey'. In a give-receive relationship, the benefactor is normally in control; the dependent beneficiary is humble and obedient. The theme of the previous article is that Christian gift-service should normally involve self abnegation, helping others with a view toward weaning them of their dependence. Deliberately working to undermine one's own benefactor status.

This is often a time-consuming process, requiring years, decades, or longer to mature. In the meantime, nothing good is attained by shunning leadership where leadership is still needed. The abdication of God-given authority is often nothing more than a weak fear of rejection. The Christian parent or pastor who refuses to discipline or who says, "Who am I to judge?" is not truly humble, but merely lazy or cowardly.

The operative term in the above, I believe, is "God-given". The authority of mother and father is certainly God-given and may not be forsaken. Likewise, the legitimate pastor's duty to teach, sanctify and govern must not be abdicated.

By contrast, authority (or 'service') that is not established by God should be seen as a moral and spiritual plague, degrading both to those who would wield it and those who would be subject.

In many cases, the "Teach a man to fish" principle is appropriate. Charitable and well-meaning individuals or agencies that (figuratively) give a fish are fostering long-term dependence. Where there is no natural ecclesial or family relationship, such manufactured dependence may well be unnatural, even devilish, not true charity at all.


Humble public servant
Can there be any doubt that virtually all governmental 'service' is such a fabricated contrivance? Never producing any real wealth, the bureaucracy's claim to benefactor status is illusory, a La-La Land fantasy. Nevertheless, the typical politician or bureaucrat, whose authority can never be considered natural or God-given, lives and works expressly for the acquisition of more control over people. It may be argued that as long as there are thieves, murderers and extortionists amongst us, we will need honest police and courts of law, i.e, civil government. But human government always tends to ascribe to itself more and more power, often in direct opposition to God's own Law. Over time, this results in more lawlessness and chaos, less harmony and peace. Not to mention the loss of eternal souls.

Now the question gets a bit stickier. If it is wrong for bureaucrats to acquire more power, is it alright for the honest Christian to submit to that power? Does the demand for humility and self abnegation mean that the Christian must always obey civil authority? Is that what Christ was commanding when he said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's"? (Mt.22:15-22) Note that he had asked to see the Roman coin, which his detractors readily produced. Maybe he was saying, in effect, "Look, you're already playing Caesar's game. If you want to play his game, you gotta play by his rules."

Another possible interpretation would be to simply admit that, like it or not, civil government is the present reality, there's no use pretending otherwise. Perhaps Jesus was simply saying, "Do what you have to do, given the present reality." But surely it is absurd to suppose that obeying civil government is a Christian's religious obligation, that the King of kings would demand, as a condition of obeying him, unswerving allegiance to an ungodly and contrived human usurpation of divine authority.

That, at least, has become this blogger's sentiment. No more an ultra conservative religious duty to obey human authority. But have also lost much of my youthful energy to fight the ungodly arrogance of government bureaucrats. Am finding it harder to justify doing anything more than ignoring civil authority as much as possible. No longer see any reason to cast a vote; why should a child of the King sully himself legitimizing an inherently illegitimate process? I believe this to be a Christ-like attitude. Notice that Jesus had almost nothing to say to Pilate, absolutely nothing to say to Herod. His attitude towards worldly powers seems to be neither cooperation nor rebellion nor fear, but simple indifference. "Let the dead bury their dead."

If you need a pigeon hole for me, consider me a theocrat. Judges 21:25 is a triumphal verse, an ideal for which to yearn. Meanwhile, in the present: Do what we have to do. And hope for the literal fulfillment of the ideal.

Thy kingdom come
Thy will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
(Note that it pertains to this world, not just a heavenly, spiritual theocracy.)

 
Self abnegation
Thu March 1 2018  12:27pmReligious/Rant

A good mother knows that hers is a temporary vocation, a duty of love that wanes over time. The baby in the womb needs her wholly, a matter of life and death. The infant at the breast may (barely) survive without the mother, but the physical and emotional need is still intense and constant. But as baby grows into childhood and adolescence, the child becomes less and less dependent. The wise mother's vocation is gradually fulfilled as her child gains the ability to thrive independently, without mother's constant care.

We all know of foolish and selfish mothers who don't want the child to grow up. The need to be needed is too strong, and this poor mother desires her child to be permanently dependent, much to the growing child's hurt.

One might meet intentional self-obsolescence in a variety of lesser professions. A web developer who constructs the website in such a way that the client can make his own updates without needing the developer's further assistance. The aging slugger who offers advice to the young rookie. "Teach a man to fish. . ."

I wonder how many school teachers see themselves in a similar light. Even more than equipping the students for adult life, how many teachers, especially at the primary school level, are consciously preparing their students to become home educators? That is to say, a professional school teacher who dreams of a future in which professional school teachers are no longer needed! Such self abnegation is, I suspect, quite rare.

Don't hold your breath waiting for such self abnegation from the medical industry. Yes, there are a growing number of holistic practitioners, chiropractors and the like, and a growing appreciation for natural remedies. True physicians who want to see their patients grow stronger naturally, so that they will no longer need professional assistance.

But the mainstream medical practitioner is much more likely to foster dependence upon pills, injections, and operations that can only come from the medical and pharmaceutical industry. In fact, an increasing majority of medical professionals seem to deem their own expert ministrations as more important than dependence upon God. Gone are the days when a doctor, after treating a seriously sick patient, might wipe his brow and sigh, "Well, she's in God's hands; There's nothing more I can do."

Witness: AMA support for elective abortions, embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, etc. They arrogate to themselves authority over human life. Pure undiluted arrogance and blasphemy.

I am chagrined to report a particular instance of this arrogance right here in Nicaragua. Ever increasingly, a Nicaraguan doctor will schedule a Cesarean birth for the slightest reason, or no reason at all. The poor woman feels obliged to obey the doctor's orders. Later, if she gets pregnant a second time, the doctor tells her that, since she has already had one C-section, she can no longer give birth naturally (a gross falsehood). So she schedules another C-section, per doctor's orders. Next, she is pressured to have her tubes tied during the 2nd Cesarean operation, because any further C-sections would be particularly dangerous (another lie). Thus, the doctor arrogates to himself divine authority to dictate how many children the woman may have.

Even less can politicians be expected to willingly relinquish power. In fact, perhaps the only significant check upon medical arrogance is the surpassing power mongering of politicians and bureaucrats. Their entire profession is defined by the acquisition of more and more power. As Hilary Rodham Clinton honestly confessed, "The only way to make a difference is to acquire power." And again, "We just can't trust the American people to make those types of choices.... Government has to make those choices for people." (She really said those things! More astute politicians may know better than to say so publicly.)

So it's a power game. When government and doctors (and insurance and pharmaceutical companies, etc.) cooperate in their quest for control, look out. When they clash in their rivalry, it may sometimes make for good spectator sport. A recent example is the Nicaraguan legislature which just passed a measure to criminalize the medical practice of pressuring a cesarean birth and/or performing one without the woman's permission. Hard to say how that will play out.

Meanwhile, if wisdom and goodness demand self abnegation, what ought the wise do? I hope to write more on this theme, and welcome reader comments as well.

  1 comment
rev. Thu Mar 8  1:50pm
When I remember bygone days
I think how evening follows morn;
So many I loved were not yet dead,
So many I love were not yet born.
- Ogden Nash

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5/9/18Some Specifics
4/20/18Crisis of Authority
3/17/18Theocracy
3/1/18Self abnegation
©2017, 2018 Jerry DePyper - Jinotega, Nicaragua, C.A.
rev. 2018.07.17