Commentary on faith, culture and politics.
Yesterday I received a hand written letter at work from a married Catholic in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, MI where I reside. In the letter I was told among other things that I left active ministry on account of selfishness, that my marriage would be invalid, that I was risking the soul of my fiance in addition to my own and finally that I was forsaking the Lord and leaving the Church. Wow… that is a lot for one letter but unfortunately there is quite a bit of misunderstanding regarding the Church, Priesthood, Celibacy, Marriage, etc… Here is my response to the letter writer.
There was something at once beautiful and terrifying about the millions of people marching for women.
One of the most eminent canonists of the Church’s history, Father Cappello, opened his great treatise on marriage with the seemingly perplexing quip that marriage is the most historically difficult of all of the Church’s teachings to understand. When reflecting on the current questions surrounding the Church’s approach to those members of the faithful in difficult familial situations - divorce, divorce and remarriage, same sex unions, etc… - it is helpful to dig deeply into the underlying causes of the historical difficulties.
I’ve reflected a lot on what has happened since we as a nation elected Donald Trump as our next President. It is no secret that he was not my first choice. However, I feel compelled to not keep secret my growing worry at the reaction of many in our nation. This is not a piece to tell everyone to calm down. It is not to say the trite and meaningless words, “It’s going to be okay…”, etc… Rather, I am concerned about what the anger, bitterness, threats, and anxiety speak of vis a vis our hearts. It is true that we have reason to be scared, anxious, and concerned. It is also true that the democratic process functioned successfully in that we had a peaceful election and are witnessing admiral civility and graciousness in the transition of power.
I have been pilloried by many “religious” people who tell me that to vote for Hillary is not only wrong but even that I will burn in eternal torment with the devil for all eternity if I vote for Hillary.
Ideas have unhinged the gates of empires. — Paul Harris
I am not surprised in the least that Donald Trump is a womanizer, cheater, and sexual degenerate. How that would surprise anyone is beyond me. What does surprise me is that he not only treats blithely the topic of sexual assault but brags about it. To say that as a celebrity you can do whatever you want and “grab ‘em by the pussy’” is not only wrong but profoundly destructive and violative of human dignity and freedom. For anyone, no matter their political persuasion, to endorse this man is something they will surely regret later in life and struggle to explain to their daughters and grand daughters.
Socrates was an Athenian philosopher in the 5th century B.C. Here are the three lessons that we desperately need to learn from him.
This election cycle is depressing.
The United States of America is fractured in so many ways. We disagree deeply about our economy, abortion, the definition of marriage, the contours of religious liberty, immigration, health care, the implications of the second amendment, etc.
The news is filled with accounts of praise or horror depending on the news station you watch. You will either see a picture like this,
Racism is real. On Monday I wrote an article about slavery at Georgetown University. This week, Terence Crutcher was shot dead and he was unarmed. One can rightly ask, “What in the hell is going on?”. Literally, what in the hell is happening? Why are so many unarmed black men being killed? Unfortunately, racism is not over in our nation and we must act peacefully to effect change in this area. There are many ways to combat racism. I want to offer three.
Sometimes it is better to lay your cards on the table. Allow me to do just that: I have an aversion to “traditionalist” Catholic circles. They are almost always anything but traditional and political to the extreme. That is not to say there are not many wonderful people in such circles. In fact, most of the people wrapped up in this Catholic subgroup are good willed persons who seek only to love God and neighbor. I somewhat identified with traditionalist Catholicism for a time and found many people who I continue to admire to this day. However, more often than not, they embody a triumphant form of Catholicism that relies upon deceptively pristine accounts of Church history to “prove” the veracity of the Catholic claim. It is typified by books like Harry Crocker’s “Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church” which is a particularly bad form of Catholic revisionism vis a vis history.
I really disagree with Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit/kneel during the National Anthem. I also disagree with those who are calling into question his right to do so.
Monsieur l’abbé, je déteste ce que vous écrivez, mais je donnerai ma vie pour que vous puissiez continuer à écrire.
Every year there are interesting stories, documentaries, reports, etc… about cults. They are always fascinating. However, we often fail to see that real people and their lives are wrapped up in these horrible tragedies.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an authoritative compilation and summary of everything the Catholic Church teaches and why.
Each of us must profess our Faith personally and within the community of Faith. The desire for God is in the heart of every human person while Atheism remains a reality for many reasons.
God has placed the call to life eternal deep in the heart of every human person. A desire for final happiness, peace, and goodness. This life comes to us by the saving death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. We worship and walk with Jesus in the Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is an authoritative compilation and summary of everything the Catholic Church teaches and why.
Legislation outlawing every evil in a society is not conducive to the common good. Marijuana should be decriminalized not only for practical and fiscal reasons but more importantly because it harms the common good.
The Western Church’s practice of mandatory celibacy is not a doctrine of the Church. However, the practice of remaining unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of God has roots in the Bible and is a spiritual gift for the individual and world when lived in human maturity and spiritual charity.
I haven't changed in my political views for over a decade. I am not entirely comfortable with either the Republican or Democratic parties. I am a political nullifidian.
The images of human devastation and numbness before the insanity of war. My letter in which I try to articulate my desire to do more through prayer and working for peace.
Pope Francis' Church reform is premised on the following five principles: 1. Christocentricity 2. Decentralization 3. No to Traditionalism 4. No to Progressivism 5. No to Foundationalism
The Supreme Court Justices of the United States since Roe v. Wade became law - despite their party affiliation - have had no causal impact on the actual number of procured abortions.
Statistics demonstrate a clear non correlation between the personal beliefs and party affiliation of the sitting president vis a vis abortion and the actual number of procured abortions in our nation.
The Bishops of the United States made a serious mistake in their efforts to push back against the coercive elements of Obama Care. The discussion of Religious Liberty - within the context of a pluralistic and secular democracy - must of necessity be grounded in reason and as Saint Thomas Aquinas rightly points out demonstrate, by reason, that our position is at the very least not unreasonable.
There is a growing chorus of prominent Catholics and some bishops saying one cannot vote for a pro-abortion candidate which by implication means one cannot vote for Hillary Clinton. However, Donald Trump has supported abortion his entire adult life, supported partial birth abortion, and still to this day supports abortion in cases of rape, incest, and the health of the mother. The point is, both candidates in this presidential election are pro-abortion.
I grew up in a small town in southwest Michigan. I loved sports, friends, and family. God, faith, and religion were not on my radar until the age of 14. Had one told me that I would go on to study for the priesthood in Rome for 6 years, be a catholic priest for 4 years, a deacon for 5, and a seminarian for 8, I would have laughed. I only became interested in the question of God and the claims of the catholic faith when I was 14 but I had every intention of marrying, having a family, and leading what I would have considered “a normal life”.
Today, Pope Francis established the ‘Commission on the Study of the Diaconate for Women’ (Commssione di Studio sul Diaconato delle donne). Archbishop Ladaria, a Jesuit and secretary at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will be the president of the commission. He taught my course in Trinitarian theology at the Gregorian University in Rome; it is hard to imagine a more kind, humble, intelligent and holy priest.
Father Regis Scanlon just wrote one of the most ham-handed philosophical and theological articles of the year over at Crisis Magazine. (here) In a nutshell, he says that Scripture is inerrant, Saint Paul said women are not to speak in the Church and therefore to ordain women as deacons would be against divine law because they would have authority over men which – according to the Gospel of Father Scanlon – is contrary to Genesis 2:18-24. Oh by the way, if you support the ordination of women as deacons, you risk rotting in hell for all eternity; again secundum evangelium Scanlon.
On his way back from Poland yesterday evening, Pope Francis stated,
“To me, I do not like to speak of ‘Islamic violence’… If I were to speak of ‘Islamic violence’, I must also speak of ‘Catholic violence’. Not all Muslims are violent just like not all Catholics are violent… I do not think that it is just to identify Islam with violence.”
He went on to say that every religion has small groups of fundamentalists who are violent. This indeed is true and more often than not they are socially and politically motivated on ideological grounds and not properly religious manifestations because unjust violence – as opposed to something like self-defense – in the name of religion is blasphemy.
I love reading Christopher Hitchens. If he were still alive, I’d ask him about the following questions. For that matter, I would want to engage any atheist on these questions. This article of its nature is not expository but rather meant to spur further thought and offer different resources for that thought.
As Pope Francis begins World Youth Day 2016 in Poland, my thoughts have turned in general to the question of the youth and their relationship to the Church. Just the other day on this blog a reader told me about his own children who have left the practice of the faith after years of he and his wife’s tremendous sacrifice to pass on the faith, send them to the local catholic high school as well as giving them the presence of many good, faithful, and doctrinally orthodox priests. The general numbers are dire and everyone has friends and family filled with young millennials who have very little stomach for the Church. What is wrong? How could this happen?
In the fall of 2013 Pope Francis sent shockwaves through the Catholic world by saying:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
I believe that the Bible is inspired by God and true. It teaches us who God is. It teaches us who we are. It tells us of God’s plan for humankind. Here is the rub though, the Bible is not meant to be a science manual. Not every book and not every part of every book is intended to give history lessons. The Bible is a compilation of books, akin to a library with many different genres. There are historical books, poetic books, prophetic books, parables, stories, etc… To read the Bible literalistically is an injustice to the purpose of the Bible and ultimately makes the Bible impossible.
The ‘New Atheists’ (Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett) make clear that much of their argumentation rests upon a serious scientific claim that cannot be set aside. Namely that evolution is an established fact. That this is true no serious person of science denies. For a cogent Christian defense of the truth of evolution, one need only turn to the former head of the human genome project, Francis Collins, a convinced and convincing believer in Jesus Christ, and one of the world’s premier intellectuals. (cf. Francis Collins, The Language of God)
I hate racism. I hate when innocent people are killed, and especially hate when they are killed because of prejudice and bigotry. I am grateful for the many, many police officers – of all races – who daily protect us with dedication and sacrifice. I have nothing to say politically about the present tragedies but I would like to say something about racism.
While I am convinced of the veracity of the Christian claim to the divinity of Jesus and his resurrection from the dead, there is no tendency or attitude which makes my stomach weaker than that religious arrogance which considers its security and certainty of faith to be the embarrassment of the infidel and damned. It is the hypocrisy which Jesus condemned so strongly in those who find in religion not the power of God for love but the power of man to intimidate and manipulate others by their conceit.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Pope Francis gave another in flight interview yesterday on his way back from Armenia covering questions about the possible existence of two popes, women deacons, his use of the word genocide, Brexit and homosexuality.
Presocratic philosophy is generally characterized by the distinction between reality and how things appear. Namely, the substance of a reality is not exhausted by appearance. Thales contended that the unifying and foundational element of reality is water, Heraclitus thought it was fire and Parmenides thought that despite appearances everything was motionless. Notwithstanding the conclusions, the essential insight is that things are not always as they appear. This has been a constant theme and point of discussion in philosophy to the present day.
Pope Francis began his apostolic visit to Armenia yesterday with almost no media coverage in the western world. This is unfortunate for two reasons.
While many Catholics and people of good-will love Pope Francis, it is no secret that a sizable number of people both within and without Catholicism vacillate between intense dislike and sinful hatred in his regard. Whether this is on account of religious conviction or political persuasion, the point is, he is different. He hails from South America and is comfortable with ambiguity, human complexity and ultimately the stinging mysteriousness of God and the humility that demands on our part before such an awesome mystery.
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