Obfuscatory

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The contradictory statements of Pope Francis (for example about communion for the protestant spouses of Catholic partners) are provoking serious questions about the nature and utility of the magisterium.

To be useful, a magisterium must, of necessity, be clear, intelligible and consistent. Doctrine, as Blessed John Henry pointed out, is not adventitious: it develops organically.

The problem with Francis is that of the promulgation of dogma by media interview.

Bearing in mind that the stock-in-trade of all interviewers is to expose and publicize inconsistency, this is – to say the least – a dangerous proceeding. The danger is aggravated by Francis’s less than total recall of traditional teaching, the provisions of canon law, and even his own previous statements.

Bearing in mind that Francis seems ill-disposed to clarify his intentions, even when formally asked to do so, all this could be mistaken for deliberate obfuscation – he first raises a dust and then complains we cannot see.

The sole beneficiary of confusion will be novelty.

What would Benedict say?

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The stampede of the Irish over the Gadarene cliff continues apace.

Mary McAleese, (president of the republic from 1997-2011) has revealed that infant baptism is an assault on the human rights of the child.

In the past, said the graduate in canon law from the Pontifical Gregorian University, people didn’t understand ‘that they had the right to say no, the right to walk away, we live now in times where we have the right to freedom of conscience, freedom of belief, freedom of opinion, freedom of religion and freedom to change religion. The Catholic Church yet has to fully embrace that thinking.’

So there you have it: the very epitome of the Irish Enlightenment, which guarantees that a parent can terminate the life of an unborn child at will, but has no right to set a child (once born) on the pathway to eternal life.

McAleese’s bizarre understanding of baptism, as creating ‘infant conscripts who are held to lifelong obligations of obedience’, simply shows how far she has strayed from Catholic orthodoxy.

Hope springs eternal…

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Another GAFCON Conference in Jerusalem. Another carefully worded appeal to the churches of the liberal West to repent and submit themselves to scriptural authority.

When will they ever learn?

The Provinces of the White Ascendancy – the US, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand – cannot repent because they believe that their pansexual agenda is a response to a moral imperative which trumps the demands of the Bible.

Gavin Ashenden, in an address of unusual clarity and brilliance, told it as it is.

Was nobody listening? There is no way back!

To beat the tired drum of evangelical fervour will not turn the tide. To continue in the Communion in what amounts to armed neutrality – bolstered by dated rhetoric – simply means that the liberals will pick them off, church by church.

The process has already begun with South Africa. With the rest it is simply a matter of time

Who can tell?

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In the matter of the spat between Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke over the delivery of the now-famous Dubia, it seems to me that there are three possibilities:

  • Francis is mistaken
  • Burke is mistaken
  • The letter was delivered by Cardianl Caffarra, as described, but it never reached Francis

The last possibility is the more charitable to both protagonists; but it raises serious concerns about the functioning of the Pope’s private office and the integrity of those close to him.

This is not the first time, it should be remembered, that Francis has pleaded ignorance of documents sent to him – consider the Karadima/Baros affair.*

What are we to conclude?

That it is a strange world in which the choice is between a prevaricating Pope, a prevaricating Cardinal and a corrupt and self-serving bureaucracy.

*’the abuse survivor and former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Marie Collins, made it known that she had delivered an 8-page letter to the Pope…Collins claims she delivered the letter in 2015, through the Pope’s own chief adviser on sexual abuse matters (and president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors), Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston. [Catholic Herald, 10 Feb 2018]

They’re at it again!

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There are few things in this world more dubious than a catalogue of the concerns and aspirations of youth compiled by a committee of geriatrics. Yet that, in the guise of an ‘instrumentum laboris’ prepared for the October synod of bishops, is what has emerged.

At a press conference launching the ‘instrumentum’, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri said the synod’s goal is that young Catholics may find ‘the beauty of life, beginning from the happy relationship with the God of the covenant and of love’, in a world that often robs them of their affections, bonds and prospective of life. The synod dedicated to young people, he said, ‘gives us the opportunity to rediscover the hope of a good life, the dream of a pastoral renewal, the desire for community and passion for education.’

What the assembled journalists made of this largely contentless rhetoric is not known. But their attention must have been grabbed when Baldisseri got to the real nitty-gritty.

‘LGBT youths, through various contributions received by the secretariat of the synod, want to benefit from a greater closeness and experience greater care from the church,’ while some bishops’ conferences are asking what they can recommend to young people who enter into a homosexual relationship, but want to be closer to the church.

Here at last was copy the punters would understand!

Forget the theologizing: what the Synod is really going to be about is SEX. And the ‘instrumentum laboris’ is clearly intended to ensure that that is the case.

Seasoned hacks will, of course, have remembered that Baldisseri has previous. He was accused of inappropriately influencing the Synods on the Family in the same way.

Three questions need to be asked:

  1. Why is Baldisseri still in charge of this process?
  2. Why is it thought appropriate that a document provided as background for bishops should be unveiled at a press conference?
  3. Who, if anybody, can verify the accuracy of the summary of ‘groups of young people’ and conferences of bishops which the ‘instrumentum’ contains?

Evangelical

Pope Francis raises Book of Gospels during Pentecost Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at Vatican

Is the Pope a Catholic?

It is the question to which the framers of the ‘Dubia’ sought an answer. Now it seems, on two of the hot button topics in the current culture wars, Francis has come out, unequivocally for once, on the side of the angels.

Abandoning his prepared speech, he spoke off the cuff to the Forum of the Italian Family Associations on June 16:

On ‘gay marriage’:

The greatest gift God gave to humanity is the family, because after the story of the creation of man, God shows us that he created man and woman in his image and likeness, and Jesus himself, when he speaks of marriage, he says: ‘Man will leave his father and mother and his wife will become one flesh.’ Because they are the image and likeness of God. You are an icon of God: the family is an icon of God. the woman: it is precisely the image of God. He has said it, I do not say it, and this is great, it is sacred.

Today – it hurts to say – we are talking about ‘diversified’ families: different types of families Yes, it is true that the word ‘family’ is an analogical word, because we talk about the ‘family’ of the stars, the ‘families’ of the trees, of the ‘families’ of animals … It is an analogical word, but the human family as an image of God, man and woman, is only one.

On elective abortion:

Children are the greatest gift: children who welcome themselves as they come, as God sends them, as God permits – even if sometimes they are sick. I heard that it is fashionable – or at least it is habitual – in the first months of pregnancy to make certain examinations, to see if the child is not well, or comes with some problem … The first proposal in that case is: ‘Shall we send him away?’ The murder of children; out an innocent.

When I was a boy, the teacher taught us history and told us what the Spartans were doing when a child was born with malformations: they took him to the mountain and threw him down, to treat ‘the purity of the race.’ And we remained stunned: ‘But how , how can you do this, poor children!’  It was an atrocity. Today we do the same.You wondered why you do not see so many dwarves on the street? Because the protocol of so many doctors – many, not all – is to do the question: ‘Is it bad?’ I say this with grief: in the last century, the whole world was scandalized by what the Nazis did to treat the purity of the race, but today we do the same, but with white gloves.

Praise the Lord! Now say that in Ireland.

Blarney

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The full implications of the Irish abortion referendum are still unfolding.

First there is pressure to bring the North into line. And since a referendum there would probably not give the ‘right’ result, campaigners on this side of the Irish Sea, are pressing to impose a ‘solution’ on the Province. (It is, of course, deemed self-evident that all women in the United Kingdom should have an equal right to terminate a human life – and more than one life if necessary*.)

But more significant will be the response of the Catholic Church, and of the Pope when he flies in – and, perhaps more importantly, on the plane when he flies out.

No one will have been surprised at the deafening silence of Francis heretofore. Nor at the lack-lustre performance of Eamon Martin and the Catholic bishops during the referendum. But now comes the World Meeting of Families, with its Amoris Laetitiae related theme. And that will be the real test.

The Irish government has already put down its marker.

‘There should be a welcome for all. And never again should public statements or remarks which seek to isolate certain families be tolerated,’ said a government spokesperson. The implications are clear: ‘family’ is required to be an ‘inclusive’ term. So to underline the Church’s willingness to conform (despite Catholic teaching on the nature of marriage and so of the family) Fr James Martin is to be a keynote speaker.

‘At the invitation of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and the Archdiocese of Dublin, I’ll be speaking at the World Meeting of Families in August, as part of the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland, on how the church can welcome families with LGBT members,’ he wrote. ‘The invitation sends a clear and powerful message from the Vatican to LGBT Catholics, their parents and their families: you belong and you are welcome.’

Francis will need to step gingerly if he is to avoid further outraging traditionalists on the one hand, or offending the partisans of the New Paradigm on the other.

* In 2012, 37% of women undergoing abortions had one or more previous abortions. The
proportion has risen from 31% since 2002. 27% of abortions to women aged under 25 were to women who had one or more abortions. [Summary information from the abortion notification forms returned to the Chief Medical Officers of England and Wales]