Thursday, February 15, 2018

German cardinal: liturgical ‘blessing’ for gay unions is ‘truly…sacrilegious’

German cardinal: liturgical ‘blessing’ for gay unions is ‘truly…sacrilegious’

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Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes 
GERMANY, February 8, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes criticized fellow German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s suggestion that Catholic priests should consider “blessing” same-sex relationships liturgically.
Marx’s idea “truly seems sacrilegious” and “ignores the clear Revelation of God,” Cordes wrote in a response on Dr. Maike Hickson translated it at One Peter Five.

“The Church is in its pastoral care bound to Holy Scripture and to its interpretation through the Church’s Magisterium,” wrote Cordes. “Marx does not even mention that homosexuality always contradicts the Will of God,” citing church teaching through the centuries.

Rather than being about receiving “God’s assistance for themselves,” those engaging in sodomy and wishing to have it “blessed” by the Church “aim with their request at the recognition and acceptance of their homosexual way of life and its ecclesial valorization.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “under no circumstances” can homosexual activity “be approved” as it is “intrinsically disordered.” Such acts are “contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity” (CCC 2357).
However, Marx said on February 3 that homosexual couples need “closer pastoral care” and “one must also encourage priests and pastoral workers to give people in concrete situations [of homosexual unions] encouragement. I do not really see any problems there.”

Marx is the President of the German Bishops’ Conference.
As LifeSiteNews previously reported, Marx also said “yes,” he could imagine the creation of a rite for homosexual couples to be blessed in the Church.
This “encouragement” from priests which he called for might include some sort of “liturgical” recognition of their union.

But “how this would be done publicly, in a liturgical form,” is “another question...that is where one has to be reticent and also reflect upon that in a good way.”

After Catholic News Agency’s initial report on Marx’s comments, his office contacted the outlet and said they had mistranslated part of what he said.
The cardinal’s office sent CNA “a request for correction of [its] translation of the interview in question, expressing concern that CNA's translation constitutes a false reference and does not properly reflect the position of Cardinal Marx.”
The cardinal’s office maintains that rather than saying “yes,” there is a possibility of liturgical “blessing” of gay unions, he answered the question in a more subtle way without giving an explicit “yes.” However, the German Bishops’ Conference doesn’t seem to deny the rest of his statements on how “one must encourage priests” to give encouragement to homosexual couples, which could include public blessings that would take a “liturgical” form.

The cardinal’s staff asked that CNA change his answer about liturgically “blessing” gay unions to: “There are no general solutions and I think that would not be right, because we are talking about pastoral care for individual cases, and that applies to other areas as well, which we cannot regulate, where we have no sets of rules.”
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has also spoken out against Marx’s proposal.
“Any such ‘blessing rite’ would cooperate in a morally forbidden act, no matter how sincere the persons seeking the blessing,” wrote Chaput. He explained such a “blessing” would encourage people to continue living in a way the Church considers gravely sinful and spiritually damaging, and therefore would be uncharitable.

“There is no love – no charity – without truth, just as there is no real mercy separated from a framework of justice informed and guided by truth,” he wrote. “Creating confusion around important truths of our faith, no matter how positive the intention, only makes a difficult task more difficult.”

“There are two principles we need to remember,” Chaput wrote. “First, we need to treat all people with the respect and pastoral concern they deserve as children of God with inherent dignity. This emphatically includes persons with same-sex attraction. Second, there is no truth, no real mercy, and no authentic compassion, in blessing a course of action that leads persons away from God.”

“This in no way is a rejection of the persons seeking such a blessing, but rather a refusal to ignore what we know to be true about the nature of marriage, the family, and the dignity of human sexuality,” he explained. “Jesus said the truth will make us free. Nowhere did he suggest it will make us comfortable.”

Marx, one of the pope’s nine main advisors, said in 2016 that same-sex relationships have “worth” which must be recognized by the Church.  

“Padre Pio is often with me during exorcisms, and the devil fears him”

“Padre Pio is often with me during exorcisms, and the devil fears him”

He came to the attention of the media because he was the leader, on December 4, of a meeting at the Telesio Grammar School in Reggio Calabria, Italy, to discuss the “horror game” that has been popular online for quite a while, the “Charlie Charlie Challenge.”

A conference with the Focolarini
Fr. Piero Catalano, disciple of Fr. Gabriele Amorth, the famous exorcist of the diocese of Rome who died in 2016, is a priest and exorcist of Reggio Calabria, explained why he uses the relics of saints during exorcisms and invokes Saint Pio of Pietrelcina against the devil to good effect.

After a life dedicated to volunteer work with the Gen Movement (connected to the Focolari Movement founded by Chiara Lubich), on December 8, 1988 he became consecrated to God in the priesthood. He has been the pastor of two towns on the Jonica coast of Reggio Calabria—Roccaforte del Greco and Saint Pantaleone—and today is the pastor of the Parish of Saint John Nepomucene and Saint Philip Neri in Arangea.

The demons fear even to say his name!
Fr. Piero studied for years to be an exorcist and is a spiritual son of Fr. Amorth. He started practicing prayer of liberation at the age of 18, and was named an exorcist three years ago.

In his office, he has many relics of saints. “I use them during my exorcisms,” he explains to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera (last December 19). “Which saint do I invoke most often? I have a special love for Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, who often makes himself present during exorcisms. The possessed person becomes afraid. He’ll say, ‘The one with the beard is here!’ And I reply, ‘By any chance, is he named Saint Pio of Pietrelcina?’ The demon will respond, ‘No, his name is Francesco Forgione.’ The devil fears even to name him.”

From nausea to cold
Fr. Piero says that he becomes aware of a demonic presence, a possession, or a vexation, through typical reactions of the demon. “For example, as soon as I put my hand on the person’s head, he or she pulls back, turns very cold, feels like he or she is choking, or becomes nauseated, etc.” If it’s not a case of demonic presence, then the exorcist limits himself to a prayer of liberation.

“Do you want to come over to my side?”
“The demon,” Fr. Piero observes, “does everything possible to tempt us exorcists. Once, he asked me, ‘How much money do you want to come over to my side?’ I started to laugh, because I’ve made a vow of poverty. I don’t have money to pay for my own funeral if I die, and I share everything with the poor. And the devil said, ‘If I could, I’d kill you instantly.’ Then I replied, ‘But you can’t because I belong to Jesus!'”

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Rosary to Heaven

You know the one about St. Peter investigating how souls were entering Heaven without his permission?

A funny and pious account of what Our Lady is doing in Heaven. 

Social networks are sharing the story that we reproduce below. It is certainly not a treatise on theology but, imperfections aside, it reflects how much Our Mother strives to help us reach out to Jesus — even when it is so hard for us to persevere in virtue.

It is said that St. Peter was once troubled when he noticed the presence of several souls whom he did not remember having let in through the doors of Heaven. He then began to investigate, and finally found the place they were sneaking in through.

He went diligently to the Lord and said to him,
“Jesus, I realized that we have several souls here that I do not remember letting in. I did some investigations and found out where they are coming from. I would like you to see it for yourself, if you don’t mind.”

Jesus, with all serenity, accompanied Peter and observed that, in fact, there was an entrance through which an impressive number of souls was constantly ascended to Heaven.

Still somewhat alarmed, St. Peter suggested:
“Should not we close this entrance, Lord?”
Jesus, smiling and even delighted with the scene, replied:
“No, no … Leave it alone. This is Mama’s thing!”

Mary had left a huge rosary hanging from a window, and through it a multitude of souls were climbing steadily up to Heaven.
It is no wonder that when we ourselves close the doors of Paradise with the bars of sin, Mary opens a window form us, so that we can always have a second (and third, and fourth) chance.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The China Syndrome

The China Syndrome

It would take a modern Dante to determine which circle of Inferno each type of misbehavior merited.  But of one thing, I am certain: at least in my own experience, I've never encountered more brazen and manipulative liars than Communist Chinese officials responsible for relations with religious believers.
Which is what makes it so disturbing that last week reports surfaced that the Vatican asked two underground Chinese bishops, loyal to Rome, to step aside in order to allow two bishops of the Patriotic Church, submissive to the Communist regime, to take their places.  That news drove the heroic 86-year-old former Cardinal of Hong Kong Joseph Zen to go to Rome without an appointment, stand outside the Casa Santa Marta, and ask to be allowed to present a letter from the underground believers — who are willing to resist despite personal costs — to Pope Francis.  Reliable sources say the pope received the letter and promised to read it.  (UPDATE: Cardinal Zen has published an account of these events this morning that confirms the basic story and adds that he is pessimistic about the line the Vatican is pursuing.  In addition, he says that the government is cracking down on religious institutions, and starting February 1, "attendance to Mass in the underground will no longer be tolerated.")

Cardinal Zen has been energetic in warning about the unreliability of agreements with the Communists.  (Rumors of an imminent agreement between China and the Vatican have been floating around for a couple of years now, without anything definite being revealed.) Asia News, a publication of the Vatican, itself reacted to last week's news with a warning about substituting "illegitimate" bishops for "legitimate" ones.  The ChiComs (as we used to call them during the Cold War) are smart and shrewd.  They know how to manipulate Western values, in this case, "unifying" the churches, i.e., the religious inclination to think we can fix all problems with dialogue, building bridges, diplomatic arrangements.

Meanwhile, China continues to cut crosses off church buildings, close some, dynamite still others.
Meanwhile, China continues to cut crosses off church buildings, close some, dynamite still others. The New York Times reported just two weeks ago that China had destroyed the Golden Lampstand church — with 60,000 worshippers the largest evangelical community in the country.  The reason: the large, conspicuous edifice had been "secretly" constructed, had failed to get official building permits, etc.  These are the usual fig leaves of tyrannical regimes all over the world when they attack religion.  I've heard top Chinese leaders blame local authorities for "excesses and errors," but these seem to recur with a suspect regularity that no one seems to take steps to stop.

The Chinese Communists studied the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 and the liberation of the nations behind the Iron Curtain thanks to St. John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and many others in the West who kept the pressure on Moscow.  They appreciate the power of religion and clearly believe they can prevent Christianity from doing in China what it did in Poland and elsewhere.  The tools are familiar: co-opt when you can, persecute and destroy when you can as well, and control information to make it appear you are simply asking for reasonable law and order within your borders.

From the regime's point of view, there's great need for all that.  Most Chinese have a vague attachment to old folk religions.  Maybe 15 percent are Buddhist and generally quiet — except in Tibet where resistance to Beijing remains alive.  And then there are Christians, lots of them, if not a large percentage — yet.  Reliable figures are hard to get, but 60 million (at a minimum) is a reasonable estimate.  It's safe to say that more Christians are in church on a Sunday morning in China than in all of Europe.  And that despite potentially serious consequences for worshipping in "unapproved" congregations.

Protestants probably make up around two-thirds of that number, but the Catholic Church, of course, has a stronger institutional structure.  The Chinese are used to playing a long game.  Given that Christianity is growing rapidly there, the regime will have a hard time if there are tens of millions more Christians who believe every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, meaning they possess human dignity and freedom.

It's safe to say that more Christians are in church on a Sunday morning in China than in all of Europe.
One of the common foreign-policy questions about China is precisely how Communist it is — and therefore whether it has in its very DNA the old Marxist drive to stamp out the "opium of the people," i.e., religion.  The economy is managed, but not wrecked along ideologically Marxist lines, as in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.  It's not exactly capitalist, of course, but there's some very serious innovation and entrepreneurship all the same.  The heavy hand of the state is nonetheless quite evident, not least in the population control measures that even the Chinese now know will bring decades — at least — of trouble as their population ages.  But is it a hard atheist system?

I wrote about the history of Chinese persecution of religious believers in my book The Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century.  At the time, the Falun Gong, about 10 million people, were being ruthlessly persecuted by the Chinese because that basically traditional spiritual movement was "a threat to social stability."  And yet it was said then and now that there were numbers of Christians in the Chinese Communist Party as well.

Whatever China's ideological composition, the independence of the Church is something that many Christians fought and died for over centuries in the Christian countries of Europe.  Independence from political regimes is crucial so that the Church can be free to carry out its spiritual mission, not only evangelizing people but working and speaking out, whatever regime it lives under, about justice and right order in society.

The Vatican seems to be stumbling in its relations with a regime that we can be sure will not respect the freedom of the Church since it doesn't respect the freedom and dignity of its own people.  Vatican negotiators would do well to remember the lessons of the Communist Era in Europe, particularly Solzhenitsyn's warning that we must fully understand the nature of Communist regimes and not give in to the illusion that the split between us and them  "may be abolished through successful diplomatic negotiations."  Because the split is spiritual, deeply so, not political.

Monday, January 15, 2018

5 Sayings from the Desert Fathers that challenge us to be better Christians

5 Sayings from the Desert Fathers that challenge us to be better Christians

The Desert Fathers were spiritual pillars of the ancient world and their sayings were first compiled into a volume called the Sayings of the Fathers in the 5th century. The Sayings provide countless little lessons that are extremely profound and challenging.
Here is another brief selection of five sayings from the Desert Fathers that challenge us to be better Christians.

When the same Abba Anthony thought about the depth of the judgments of God, he asked, “Lord, how is it that some die when they are young, while others drag on to extreme old age? Why are there those who are poor and those who are rich? Why do wicked men prosper and why are the just in need?” He heard a voice answering him, “Anthony, keep your attention on yourself; these things are according to the judgment of God, and it is not to your advantage to know anything about them.”

Someone asked Abba Anthony, “What must one do in order to please God?” The old man replied, “Pay attention to what I tell you: whoever you may be, always have God before your eyes; whatever you do, do it according to the testimony of the holy Scriptures; in whatever place you live, do not easily leave it. Keep these three precepts and you will be saved.”

 Abba Pambo asked Abba Anthony, “What ought I to do?” and the old man said to him, “Do not trust in your own righteousness, do not worry about the past, but control your tongue and your stomach.”

 Abba Agathon said, “Unless he keeps the commandments of God, a man cannot make progress, not even in a single virtue.”

 Abba Copres said, “Blessed is he who bears affliction with thankfulness.”

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

German bishops raked in $7.1 billion last year from taxpayers

German bishops raked in $7.1 billion last year from taxpayers

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German Cardinals Walter Kasper and Reinhard Marx 
GERMANY, January 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — The German Bishops’ Conference received the equivalent of $7.1 billion US from German Catholic taxpayers in 2017.

This is the highest amount of tax revenue the German Catholic Church has received since the church tax was introduced to the constitution of the Weimar Republic in 1919. The clause concerning the tax was included in the new German Constitution after the Second World War.

The church tax, or Kirchensteuer, is levied upon Roman Catholics, “Old Catholics,” Lutherans, two other Protestant communions, and Jews. The revenue was once kept by the German government for the upkeep of religious buildings and payment of ministers’ salaries, but it is now given directly to the governing bodies of these religious communities. Muslim places of worship are self-supporting or receive funds from abroad.

The Kirchensteuer represents 8 percent-9 percent of an individual’s annual income, depending on where in Germany they live. The monthly deduction appears as “KS” on payslips, much to the consternation of foreign employees who do not consider themselves members of these   religious communities but are taxed all the same. According to Handelsblatt, the German business magazine that broke the story of the German Church’s record haul, officials will go so far as to request the baptismal records of foreign nationals.
Germans and foreign residents can opt out of the church tax by going to a government office or courthouse, signing documents stating that they are no longer members of their religion, and paying a fee. German Christians began doing this in large numbers in the 1990s when taxes were significantly increased to rebuild post-reunification East Germany. In some cases, Christians signed the forms and continued participating in their faith communities.

However, the German Catholic bishops shut the door on this option for Catholics in 2012 when they decreed that Catholics who opted out of the Church tax would be socially and spiritually penalized.

Catholics who opt out of the church tax will not be employed by the German Catholic Church or its establishments, including schools and hospitals. They are not allowed to join such Catholic groups as church choirs. They may not be godparents. They are denied the sacraments and a Catholic funeral.
While devout Catholics may be frightened by the thought of being cut off from the sacraments, even the most reluctant of cultural Catholics may think twice before opting out of the church tax: the German Catholic Bishops Conference is the second biggest employer in Germany.

This may be one reason why the 89.8 percent of Catholic Germans who do not go to Sunday Mass continue to pay the tax. However, more and more of the less committed do opt out every year. In 2016, 160,000 Catholics declared that they no longer belonged to the Church.

As only 10.2 percent of Germany’s Catholics go to Mass on Sunday, one may be forgiven for asking exactly what the German Catholic Bishops are doing with the billions of euros they receive every year.

Well, there are salaries, of course. German bishops make more than $12,000 US a month, and then there are all the people working for them, including those who work for Germany’s Catholic charity Caritas, and all the other services run by the Church: museums, hospitals, kindergartens, schools, colleges, and retirement homes.

There are also German Church charities that minister to the poor overseas. According to the UK’s Catholic Herald,  projects in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe received more than €451 million in funding from German Catholic aid organizations in 2015.

Then there is the German Church’s rich architectural patrimony to keep in good repair. The German bishops may not have many priests or Sunday Mass-goers, but they need never close a church, let alone sell it, due to budgetary constraints.
But one thing the German bishops are not doing with their billions of euros: They are not making a dent on the growing secularization of Germany. With all their money, they cannot convince the vast majority of German Catholics -- let alone anyone else -- to embrace the Gospel and worship God on Sundays.

Meanwhile, the attempts of certain German Cardinals to widen the straight and narrow path of the Catholic faith for the greater comfort of unrepentant sexual sinners rankle orthodox Catholics who also pay the Church tax. Cardinal Walter Kasper has advocated for years that  divorced-and-remarried Catholics be permitted the sacraments, and yet any Catholic in Germany who balks at paying 8 percent to 9 percent of his or her income to the German bishops is de facto excommunicated.

“I think it’s scandalous that German bishops deny access to the sacraments to those Catholics in Germany who, for whatever reasons, do not wish to pay into a rather opaque fund,” a church taxpayer told LifeSiteNews.

John Goodall, 28, has been working in Germany for two years. The bishops’ attitude bothers him very much because, he says, they are simultaneously encouraging those who live an objectively immoral lifestyle to receive the sacraments. “It seems like a form of simony,”  said Goodall.

When Goodall first arrived in Germany, he registered at his town hall. There he was asked his religion, and Goodall said he was a Catholic. “Ever since, I’ve had the Kirchensteuer automatically deducted from my salary,” he told LifeSiteNews.
Goodall wonders if it might actually be immoral to pay the tax.

“I have spent ages looking through opinions on the matter because it feels slightly immoral paying (9 percent) to them,” he continued.

“As a traditional Catholic, I ... see traditional and authentic expressions of the faith being undermined by these same bishops. There are also the extravagant salaries of the bishops themselves. I’d much rather pay the money directly to the Old Rite parish I attend. I’d even be happy to pay (the parish) 9 percent directly.”  
He says the only advantage to the church tax that he can think of is that the church buildings are well maintained. “But I’d rather have proper doctrine and discipline than beautiful but empty churches.”
As for the vast network of German Church charities, Goodall has a question:
“Shouldn’t charitable giving be voluntary?”

“Decree Regarding Same-sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues.”--THE LAW OF THE HEART IS LOVE.

Lex Cordis Caritas - The law of the heart is Love     by Bishop Thomas John Paprocki

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

There has been quite a bit of consternation since I sent an internal communication to my clergy and staff last month that was unfortunately leaked to the public concerning my “Decree Regarding Same-sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues.” While the underlying doctrinal issues are not new, these norms were necessary to address situations in the pastoral context arising from the new reality in the law and in our culture, given that same-sex marriage is now recognized by legislative action and judicial decision as legal throughout the United States. This decree prohibits same-sex weddings to be performed by our diocesan personnel or to take place in Catholic facilities, restricts persons in such unions from receiving the sacraments or serving in a public liturgical role unless they have repented, and says that deceased persons who had lived openly in a same-sex marriage giving public scandal to the faithful are to be deprived of ecclesiastical funeral rites unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death.

At the same time, the decree says that a child with a Catholic parent or parents living in a same-sex marriage may be baptized if there is a well-founded hope that he or she will be brought up in the Catholic faith and that such a child who is otherwise qualified and properly disposed may receive first Eucharist and the sacrament of confirmation. Moreover, the decree states that children living with persons in a same-sex marriage are not to be denied admission to Catholic schools and catechetical and formational programs on those grounds alone. However, parents and those who legally take the place of parents are to be advised that their children will be instructed according to the church’s teachings on marriage and sexuality in their fullness and they must agree to abide by the Family School Agreement.

In the decree I also remind all who exercise a ministry within the church that, while being clear and direct about what the church teaches, our pastoral ministry must always be respectful, compassionate and sensitive to all our brothers and sisters in faith, as was the ministry of Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd and our everlasting model for ministry. People with same-sex attraction are welcome in our parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Springfield in Illinois as we repent our sins and pray for God to keep us in his grace.

All of this is totally consistent with Catholic teaching about the sacraments and the understanding of marriage as between one man and one woman that has prevailed for millennia in all of society, not just in the church. The fact that there would be such an outcry against this decree is quite astounding and shows how strong the LGBT lobby is both in the secular world as well as within the church. People have been quick to quote the famous in-flight statement of Pope Francis in 2013 when he said, “If someone is gay and is searching for the Lord and has good will, then who am I to judge him?” But the pope quickly added, “The problem is not having this [homosexual] tendency, no, we must be brothers and sisters to one another, and there is this one and there is that one. The problem is in making a lobby of this tendency: a lobby of misers, a lobby of politicians, a lobby of masons, so many lobbies. For me, this is the greater problem.” So while we certainly leave the eternal judgment of one’s soul to God, we still must deal with objective realities here on earth and even Pope Francis recognized that the gay lobby is a great problem.

Critics have been urging me to rescind my “Decree Regarding Same-sex ‘Marriage’ and Related Pastoral Issues.” However, this decree is a rather straightforward application of existing Catholic doctrine and canon law to the new situation of legal marital status being granted in civil law to same-sex couples, which is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church. All clergy before they are ordained take an Oath of Fidelity which includes the statement, “In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of faith in its entirety; I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it. I shall follow and foster the common discipline of the entire Church and I shall maintain the observance of all ecclesiastical laws, especially those contained in the Code of Canon Law.” Pastors and bishops repeat this oath upon assuming their office to be exercised in the name of the church. Thus, deacons, priests and bishops cannot contradict church teachings or refuse to observe ecclesiastical laws without violating their oath, which is a promise made to God.

Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest who lives in New York, posted my decree on Twitter and said in a series of tweets, “If bishops ban members of same-sex couples from funeral rites, they must also ban divorced and remarried Catholics without annulments ... women who have children out of wedlock, members of straight couples living together before marriage, anyone using birth control ... To focus only on LGBT people, even those in same-sex marriages, without a similar focus on the sexual or moral behavior of straight people is in the words of the Catechism a ‘sign of unjust discrimination.’” Father Martin gets a lot wrong in those tweets, since canon law prohibits ecclesiastical funeral rites only in cases of “manifest sinners” which gives “public scandal,” and something such as using birth control is a private matter that is usually not manifest or made public. Moreover, my decree does not focus on “LGBT people,” but on so-called same-sex marriage, which is a public legal status. No one is ever denied the sacraments or Christian burial for simply having a homosexual orientation. Even someone who had entered into a same-sex “marriage” can receive the sacraments and be given ecclesiastical funeral rites if they repent and renounce their “marriage.”

Father Martin also misses the key phrase in the decree that ecclesiastical funeral rites are to be denied to persons in same-sex marriages “unless they have given some signs of repentance before their death.” This is a direct quote from canon 1184 of the Code of Canon Law, which is intended as a call to repentance. Jesus began his public ministry proclaiming the Gospel of God with these words: “This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). In other words, those living openly in same-sex marriage, like other manifest sinners who give public scandal, can receive ecclesiastical funeral rites if they gave some sign of repentance. This does not mean that unrepentant manifest sinners will simply be refused or turned away. Even in those cases where a public Mass of Christian Burial in church cannot be celebrated because the deceased person was unrepentant and there would be public scandal, the priest or deacon may conduct a private funeral service, for example, at the funeral home.

Father Martin’s tweets do raise an important point with regard to other situations of grave sin and the reception of Holy Communion. He is right that the Church’s teaching does not apply only to people in same-sex marriages. According to canon 916, all those who are “conscious of grave sin” are not to receive Holy Communion without previous sacramental confession. This is normally not a question of denying Holy Communion, but of people themselves refraining from Holy Communion if they are “conscious of grave sin.” While no one can know one’s subjective sinfulness before God, the Church can and must teach about the objective realities of grave sin. Speaking objectively, then, one can say the following:

Those who have sexual relations outside of a valid marriage, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, should not receive Holy Communion unless they repent, go to confession and amend their lives. This includes the divorced and remarried without an annulment. An exception would be where the couple agrees to live as brother and sister, as long as there is no public scandal. Similarly, if there is no public scandal, two men who live chastely with each other as friends or as brother and brother, or two women who live chastely with each other as friends or as sister and sister, may receive Holy Communion if there is no public scandal.
Those who have had an abortion or have assisted in performing or procuring an abortion should not receive Holy Communion unless they repent, go to confession and amend their lives.

Those politicians and judges who helped to make same-sex marriage legal and who aid and abet abortion, for example, by voting for taxpayer funding for abortion, should not receive Holy Communion unless they repent, go to confession and amend their lives.

Those who use artificial contraception should not receive Holy Communion unless they repent, go to confession and amend their lives.

Those who miss Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, unless it would be impossible due to a grave cause such as serious illness, should not receive Holy Communion unless they repent, go to confession and amend their lives.

These are just a few examples, but in fact all those who are conscious of any grave sin should not receive Holy Communion unless they repent, go to confession and amend their lives. Those who do receive Holy Communion while conscious of grave sin compound the moral offense by committing the sin of sacrilege.

My recent decree did not address all these various other situations because they have long been part of Church teaching. The decree was needed to add the novel concept of same-sex “marriage” to those instances considered to be objectively grave sins.

The truths of the faith revealed by our Lord in Scripture and Tradition are not always easy to accept, especially in a world that seeks to make all truth subjective. The fact is that some truths are objective and unalterable. Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). There is no greater happiness than to see God. Saint Paul reminds us that we are all in need of daily conversion in that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).” Let us pray for each other, that each of us may come to an ever deeper understanding of God’s call to discipleship in our lives, the same God who “wills everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2: 4).

May God give us this grace. Amen.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dr. Espin..heretic of the Catholic church--

The Triumph of the People’s Church

Continuing his commitment to a doctrinal vision that prioritizes the lived experiences and insights of ordinary Catholics over the authoritative teachings of the Church, Pope Francis recently affirmed the importance of what he called a “free and responsible” form of Catholic theology—a “creative fidelity”—in the life of the Church. Speaking before a Vatican gathering of 100 members of the Italian Theological Association last month, Pope Francis advised the theologians to remain “anchored” to the teachings of Vatican II, by “proclaiming the Gospel in a new way” to a rapidly changing world.

This is not the first time that Pope Francis has called on theologians to embrace the spirit of Vatican II by announcing the Gospel in a new way, “more consonant with a profoundly different culture and world.” From the first days of his pontificate, Pope Francis has privileged a form of “Popular Catholicism” that prioritizes the insights, the beliefs, and the practices that emerge from the people themselves. The word “popular” does not refer to “prevalent,” rather, it refers to the religious practices and beliefs that emerge from the people themselves—not the priests. Emphasizing the contextual nature of all theological reflection, “Popular Catholicism” maintains that theology must always be cultural and historical. From this perspective, any attempt to de-culturize the theological and religious expressions of a community is dehumanizing because it rejects the authentic experience of the people.

Emerging in Latin America, as a way for Latino Catholics to differentiate themselves from the ways in which Catholicism was practiced in Spain, Popular Catholicism was originally a symbol of freedom—a rejection of the colonial dominance of the Roman Catholic Church in Spain. A leader of this movement has been theologian Orlando Espin, a professor of religious studies at the University of San Diego and director of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Catholicism at the university. In his 1999 edited collection of essays (published by Orbis Books) entitled From the Heart of Our People, Espin emphasizes the “contextual nature” of all theological reflection and maintains that theology is always cultural and historical. Espin maintains that the consequence of this cultural emergence is that elites—or those Espin calls the “hegemonic group and their allies,” have been successful in using the symbols and ideologies of religion to “oppress the marginalized.” Especially critical of those theologians who privilege the ecclesiastical institution as the witness to “true Catholicism,” Espin maintains that “the real daily life religion of most Catholics is regarded as an adulterated version of the institutional norm.”

Hardly a marginal figure in the Popular Catholicism movement, Espin has been a longtime leader of this movement to reject the religious authority of the hierarchy in favor of the more authentic lived experience of the people. Such a turn requires theologians to use what Pope Francis calls “creative fidelity” to allow the Church to be “rejuvenated by the perennial novelty of the Gospel of Christ.”

Highly respected by left-leaning national and international theologians, Espin was awarded the highest honor last year from the Catholic Theological Society of America—the world’s largest professional society of Catholic theologians. Receiving the John Courtney Murray Award for his “lifetime of distinguished theological achievement,” Espin, a priest of the Orlando diocese who no longer appears to function as a priest, and is currently married to his same-sex partner, thanked his “husband,” Ricardo Gallego, during his acceptance speech.

It is clear that after decades in the shadows, Popular Catholicism is now ascendant under the papacy of Pope Francis. This is in contrast to his predecessors. Both Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict had spoken harshly about the dangers of a Church that was “born of the people.” Pope St. John Paul II gave a stern rebuke to the Latino theologians in 1983—publishing a letter to the Nicaraguan bishops denouncing the “people’s church” in especially harsh terms. In a speech that was reported on the pages of The New York Times on March 5, 1983, the pontiff predicted that “The Church born of the people is a new invention that is both absurd and of perilous character … only with difficulty, could it avoid being infiltrated by strangely ideological connotations.”

In 1984, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger offered An Instruction On Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation in which he warned about the dangers of the “diverse theological positions,” and the “badly defined doctrinal frontiers” of this movement. Continuing the concerns of his predecessor in 2007 at a private Mass with his former doctoral students, Pope Benedict delivered a talk against theological arrogance by warning against theologians who “only talk in the end about ourselves [and] don’t go beyond ourselves and beyond people.”

As Pope St. John Paul II predicted, Popular Catholicism appears to have already been infiltrated by “strangely ideological connotations.” Many of today’s most highly regarded theologians—like Orlando Espin—draw from the same ideology, and implement the same language and methods of the liberation theologians of the past. In some ways, they are even more radical in their agenda than those of the past because they are now provided with theological cover from Pope Francis himself.

In contrast, many orthodox theologians in the Vatican have been publicly humiliated or removed from their positions. Cardinal Robert Sarah, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, saw Pope Francis replace sympathetic congregation members with critics who oppose his liturgical reforms and publicly rebuked the cardinal for promoting traditional liturgical practices. Pope Francis also refused to allow Cardinal Gerhard Muller serve a second term as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Pope Emeritus Benedict has praised bothof them following these actions by Pope Francis. It is clear that Pope Emeritus Benedict continues to support faithful Catholic theologians. In an interview with Cardinal Muller that was excerpted in the Catholic Herald, the cardinal said that Benedict was “disappointed” with the decision by Pope Francis to remove the cardinal from the head of the CDF. Stating that he had “defended the clear traditions of the faith” while in office, Cardinal Muller told the reporter that Pope Francis had dismissed him without explanation: “He did not give a reason, just as he gave no reason for dismissing three highly competent members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith a few months earlier.”

These are perilous times for the Church as Popular Catholicism continues to gain ascendancy. It is difficult to predict where all of this will take us. In his recently published book, The Power of Silence, Cardinal Robert Sarah suggests that the Church is in danger of sliding into the same kinds of worldly preoccupations that the Church in Latin America concerned itself with in the 1980s. Cardinal Sarah suggests that we are in danger of moving away from our concern for the salvific mission of the Church. It may be up to the laity to continue that work—along with the remnant of faithful theologians who courageously continue to guide us.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Raw Veganism

Raw Veganism: The Most “Extreme” Diet?

The earth itself provides health and vitality; and man’s innovations often do more harm than good. This is especially true in the case of food. Though many factors are important in the increase of one’s vitality, food is a cornerstone. The most vital foods on earth are raw fruits, vegetables of both land and sea, and raw sprouted seeds, nuts, grains and beans. These are the ONLY foods that you should eat.
For more than thirty years I have used this living food diet to prevent and conquer disease. Additionally it fuels a long and conscious life for hundreds of thousands.

I often wonder how long and far we will have to drive this message. There is very little question about it – meat and dairy foods cause disease. Unfortunately, many people are still unsure.

Nutrition is a combination of many factors: oxygen, water, food, and exercise being the primary sources. Together they provide complete vitality. I prefer the word “vitality” to “health” because if you ask someone who is on the average Western diet if they are healthy, most of those not (yet) suffering from a chronic disease would say “yes.”
With this in mind I wonder how most would respond if asked about their vitality. I suspect their answers would probably be different. It’s an important question, since many people see their diet as healthy and consequently, because food is generally regarded as our greatest source of health, they assume they must be eating well.
But are you vital? And is your food vital? That’s a more difficult question, is it not?
Those who think that food’s energy is derived solely from calories, regardless of its source, are mistaken. Think about the real relationship that we have with what we eat. Who does not feel more vitality from a salad than from a piece of fried chicken?
There is, both biologically and aesthetically, more “life” in living food. It is not uncommon to hear those who are unfamiliar with raw foods refer to some food as “dead.” Intuitively, they understand this.
A recent commercial for a hamburger chain capitalized on this, showing the “dead” and unappetizing hamburger of a rival restaurant under harsh light, undressed by tomatoes and lettuce, while their own burgers were colorful, packed with raw vegetables, and in movement. “There is life in our food,” the commercial implied. We need no lessons to teach us that food does indeed have “life.”
Nevertheless, skeptics continue to frown upon the raw food diet, even when there is ample evidence supporting its healthfulness. Most criticism derives from the fact that raw food diets can make it easy to miss certain nutrients; that raw-foodism may be too extreme; and that certain foods are easier to digest when cooked. These claims are absurd.
One question I hear a lot is “can you get enough of the proper nutrients from raw foods.”

The answer is unequivocally yes.

Of course if you do not eat the proper foods in any diet, there is a risk of malnutrition. But it is far easier to eat the correct raw foods and receive a full spectrum of vital nutrients. It simply takes effort and experience. Also, one should only consume organic, fresh produce, preferably produce grown locally. There is no evidence that this diet will lack the proper nutrients. In fact, Hippocrates has seen hundreds of thousands of people thrive on this diet for over half a century.
There are some people who claim the “original” diet of humans was not raw, that we are naturally omnivorous, and that raw food advocates who claim man once ate only fruit from the trees are engaged in wishful thinking.
We may be, but I don’t think it matters. There have been vegetarian societies and omnivorous societies, and the meat-eaters invariably suffer from health problems that the vegetable eaters do not.
The one thing you can’t call me is a primitivist. After my initial intuition about raw living food (intuition is highly undervalued), I looked at the diet from strictly a scientific standpoint. Clearly, vitality comes from eating vegetables, preferably in their raw state. I don’t care if man has lived for the last 5,000 years on a diet of hamburgers and pizza; it simply is not the healthiest way to live.
As someone who values my health and the health of the planet, I cannot come to any other conclusion, and I am perpetually confused by those who can. How is it possible that vegetables (which happens to contain all the protein that meat and dairy eaters claim vegans miss) are good for you, yet they are bad for you if you eat them exclusively? If they contain everything we need and more, how can this be possible?! It simply is not!
This has been a recent criticism aimed at the “movement” (eating raw food is not so much a movement as a natural way of living). Shouldn’t the exploding weight of Westerners (even in France people are getting larger) be explained as something akin to an eating disorder? People who reduce their caloric intake to an unhealthy point and/or radically limit their food choices (for example, by eating only celery and grapefruit), may have derived their desire to eat raw foods from emotional instability, but so has someone who gorges on steak and potatoes.
If someone is on a raw food diet for the correct reasons, it is not only a good decision, it is a healthy one. And as is the case with any decision, education should come first. One should intuitively understand that raw food is, at the very least, the purist choice.
At the Institute we believe that only the things that are healthy are not unhealthy, and that seems like a fairly logical conclusion. Recently, “accepted” institutes have finally begun to conduct research on raw food, probably with the intent of discrediting the diet, and they’ve come up with some amazing research that does just the opposite. In fact, a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, led by Luigi Fontana, revealed that raw foodists who had been on the diet for an average of 3.6 years had an abnormally low bone mass when compared to people who are on a diet consisting of refined carbohydrates, animal products and cooked food, – the typical Western diet.
Critics were waiting to run with this information, until they uncovered a second piece to the study, information that stunned many scientists and doctors: the low bone mass associated with a raw food diet, usually a sign of osteoporosis and fracture risk, was not linked to high bone turnover rates. In fact, bone turnover was low, and the raw foodists had less inflammation and less IGF-1, one of the most important growth factors linked to breast and prostate cancer.
There is more. Despite the warnings of many health “professionals” that cutting meat and dairy from the diet will present a risk of vitamin D deficiency, the raw food group actually had higher levels of the vitamin. Dr. Fontana tried to explain it away by claiming that: “These people were clever enough to expose themselves to sunlight to increase their concentration of vitamin D.”
Unfortunately, Dr. Fontana could not entirely abandon his skepticism, and he resorted to saying that “over the long term, a strict raw food vegan diet could pose some health problems.” (It’s a strange conclusion, given his own evidence.)
After working in the field for as long as I have, I don’t need a study to tell me that a largely raw food diet builds health. But the study was fascinating, if only because it further exposed the strange contradictions that “doctors” adopt. How can they say, “vegetables are the healthiest food, eat more of them,” and then turn right around and say, “but a diet of raw vegetables is dangerous?” It happens all the time, though, and it still puzzles me endlessly.
Another example: recently, an interesting paper was published in Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society on the subject of cancer. It is thorough, and presents a varying number of statistics regarding cancer rates in the United States, information about advancements in treatment, etc. But, as always, what should be the logical conclusion was pointedly missing.
One of the most pervasive findings of cancer epidemiology is the observation that individuals who consume larger quantities of fruits and vegetables have a lower risk of developing malignancies compared to those who appear otherwise identical but eat smaller quantities of these dietary components. [Talaley]
It seems fairly conclusive to me.
Interestingly, these studies are never done with exclusively organic vegetables, which would certainly make the results even more impressive.
“Those who consume larger amounts of vegetables must, by necessity, ingest more fiber and nearly always consume less fat. Both fiber and fat effect tumor incidence in experimental animal models,” Talaley continues. “Vegetable eaters also have a higher intake of vitamins and of a myriad of secondary plant metabolites (phytochemicals) that play specialized roles in the life of the plant and have great benefits for humans. Many of these phytochemicals display varied and interesting pharmacological and toxicological properties.”
I’ve heard countless people surmise that raw food is difficult to digest, and although the claim is often made that there is evidence to back it up, none ever comes. However, there are literally thousands of studies showing that meat and dairy consumption cause nearly every non-communicable disease known to man.
So, what do the naysayers resort to? They claim that there is something emotionally or psychologically wrong with raw fooders, that it is an “eating disorder.” Given the evidence, this is tantamount to saying “I think meat is more delicious than vegetables, so eating vegetables is an eating disorder.”
Show me even a small bit of conclusive evidence that proves that everything a human needs for life is not available in a raw food diet and I will scientifically destroy that theory.
Article by Brian Clement, PhD, LN of Hippocrates Health Institute

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Time to Love, Time to Forgive

Time to Love, Time to Forgive

When asked what the most favorite time of the year is for you, many of my clients over the years identified it as the Christmas time or the Holiday time of Christmas and Hanukkah. However, many have also identified the same time as the most difficult time of the year also. How come?

It is a joyful time. We meet with family and friends in a festive context. We give gifts and receive gifts. It is time to give and time to be generous. It is such a pleasure watching children opening our gifts with excitement! It is a pleasure friends letting us know that they enjoy who we are and what we do. But this is the time we are also anxious to know if our gift was adequate or was appreciated.   It is the time to realize who does not really appreciate our gifts or our love. It is the time to remember who used to give us joy and who we miss currently due to death or falling off. Some of the suggestions below are some tips to get us through with less stress.
  1. If you miss someone due to death or to a move: it is a good idea to write to speak about that person celebrating their lives. If it is a family member you may speak or write to other family members illustrating how you were personally affected by that person. If you miss a colleague speak to other colleagues illustrating how much you appreciated the person using concrete examples and stories. If it is a friend that you miss, speak to other friends and help them revive their positive memories. Even though you miss someone you loved, your efforts will make it a happy experience.
  2. If you miss someone’s love because the person is no longer cares about you or because you had a fight with or so: It is a good idea to reconcile with that person. The anger may be caused by the experience of feeling betrayed or being neglected. Whatever be the reason, anger is painful. Like the great Buddha once said, “ You will not be punished for your anger, but you will be punished by your anger.” If you believe you can reconcile with that person through a phone call or an email, sure, that is the first step you can take. If you believe you need a third person’s help to reconcile that is what you might choose. If you feel that a symbolic gift could help the reconciliation, which is what you might try.
  3. If you feel someone hates you, and that you feel the negative energy from the person: what matters is your awareness that you are hated by someone, and therefore, you want to be at least tolerated if not liked by the person. The awareness that someone is angry towards you or that you have animosity towards someone is certainly, stressful.   It is better that we take the initiative to break the ice than to wait for the other to act first. Only by forgiving the person first, you will be able even to start the reconciliation process.   We may well keep in mind that if we take initiative to forgive we are at an advantage: only a person who is spiritually “superior” can really forgive someone unconditionally.
It is the time to love, time to forgive, time to repair, time to renew – with the new year!

Antony Chatham