Monday, September 30, 2013

Fr. W. H. Anderson, S.J. "The Delicate And Vigilant Prudence Of A Saintly Temper Of Soul, Jealous For The Divine Honour And The Good Of Others - Is Among The First Qualities For A Confessor."

St. John Vianney
I. - What Confession is Not.

People's mistakes about the Catholic Faith, and the charges of some who ought to know better, take various lines. They "shall say all manner of evil against you, falsely, for My sake." The supremacy of the Pope is popularly denounced as ambition; the Sacramental system, as priestcraft; the science of casuistry, as the art of lying; intentions of Masses, as the greed of wealth. Definitions of dogma? they are said to be bondage to the intellect; spiritual guidance? it is bondage to the will; recommending almsdeeds? it is robbing the widow and orphan; evangelical counsels? rank Manichaeism; repression of error by Catholic powers? old-world intolerance. Such are the opinions about us in the public mind. We are all these things together; or now one, now the other, according to the humour of the moment. The wind shifts and veers, but the bark of Peter steers among many rocks, and is always close on a lee-shore. "The Church of Rome," says someone in a popular serial, "hardens the heart; but, enrevanche, it softens the brain!" ( Of course the very opposite is the truth of the matter!) The charges against the Sacrament of Penance are darker still. Men do not hesitate to accuse those whom Our Lord has consecrated to minister the means of grace to His people of being ministers of evil, of conscious, voluntary, systematic evil. Not only of being unworthy, personally, of their vocation to peculiar holiness - which has been the case (God knows) in the Church's history - but they are supposed to be, in the confessional, agents of evil, instruments of evil, practitioners, teachers, inculcators of evil. Of evil most hateful in the eyes of God, Who is thrice-holy. Men say all this in an easy, off-hand kind of way, which is by no means without its malice. Some of them, it is to be feared, would even feel sorry to be undeceived. Yet a person need not be knowingly malicious, or dishonest, to have some uneasy suspicions of the kind. It is riot hard to imagine a "man of good-will" saying to a Catholic: "Many parts of your system attract me. I feel their beauty, their solemnity and reasonableness, but I do not see my way through the confessional. There is something dark and mysterious there. What goes on in it? What is said and advised? I wonder what is confessed, and under what conditions it is absolved? Confession gives great power to man over his fellows: and man is a poor, frail creature, after all. Power is dangerous to him. Experience, and the poet, tell us that man,
" 'Dressed in a little brief authority,
 Plays such fantastic tricks, before high heaven,
 As make the angels weep.'
Are any such tricks played in that sacred tribunal?"

Now, to answer this man of good-will - not the professed calumniator, who gets his bread by unwashed falsehood - we make three statements.

1. The confessional is not a school of evil.

It is repulsive even to put this in words, speaking, as we are, of one of the Holy Sacraments of Our Lord's Church. Sanctity, as every little child may know, is one of the four great marks of that Church, to create and perpetuate which Jesus suffered on the Cross. [One, Holy, Apostolic, and Catholic.] And the Church is holy, among other reasons, in virtue of the Holy Sacraments which she administers.
They are the channels of grace, and grace is a gift from the All-holy God. But they who do not believe the Sacraments can only look on the outside of things. And what they see is not self-evidently holy, but simply mysterious. It may be holy or unholy for aught they know, for they know nothing, and can know next to nothing. People disappear within the confessional, and come out again. The priest is bound by the Sacramental seal, not so much as to hint, or breathe upon, anything he has heard. The person confessing is also bound to some extent, though not Sacramentally, yet by sacred obligations of trust and confidence. Why? Because the whole transaction is supernatural. It has no relation to any other mode of acknowledgement, or to any other manifestation, or to mere human and friendly counsel. These may be honourable to both parties, and advantageous to the seekers : but they are not Sacramental confession.

So our well-meaning man, having derived no light from what  he sees, and perhaps little from inquiry, has no resource but to go to our books and find out for himself.

He goes, then, to our books - books that need not fear the light, though they were not written for him. They were written for men who are called to be practitioners in the most discriminative and delicate science that can occupy human thought. Such books are not less necessary because they must needs be partly concerned with painful details. Sin itself is a matter of detail; it is not only a general state of soul, but a succession of acts, words, thoughts, omissions. The confessor, like the judge in a court, hears about sins, and enforces rules for amendment, in detail. He must know the individual case of his penitent, and in all needful detail. If he did not, he would be like the falsely charitable man of whom St. James speaks, who says to the needy, "Go in peace, be you warmed and filled," yet gives not those things that are needful - "what shall it profit?"
The priests of God, under the law, had the office of viewing, discerning, and declaring those who came to them, to be either tainted and excommunicated lepers or clean from leprosy. A whole chapter in Leviticus is occupied with the rules that were to guide the priest in this office of discerning. They make up, so to say, a treatise of moral theology on the subject of leprosy, issued by divine command, and in great detail. The leper is to come and manifest himself.    
What would it profit it he came to the priest muffled up, and not (as Our Lord bade the lepers in the Gospel) showing himself to the priest? This would be just like a sinner coming to acknowledge his guilt in general, not detailing it as far as is needed for the priest to Judge of his case. It would be neither more nor less than the "General Confession" in the Protestant prayer-book, which is easier to make than even coming to church. A man who does not believe the Gospel must, of course, disbelieve the power of the priest.
The Jews, disbelieving the Gospel, by logical consequence denied that power in the Person of the Author of Sacraments, the Great High Priest. Their objections, then, were the objections against the confessional now. They said,. "Who is this that speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?" "Who is this that forgives sins also?" Perfectly true, if they were right in rejecting Christ. Perfectly false, since He is true. Our Lord can absolve by a word, for He is God, which the Jews did not believe. And, because He is God, they to whom He has given the power can absolve by a word - which most non-Catholics do not believe. 
The unbelief is the same in both cases. Men do not believe that the human is secretly endured with the superhuman power. But does anyone really believe the words, "Receive all of you the Holy Ghost; whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them." "I will give to you (Peter) the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; and whatsoever you shall loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven"? Then for that man to suppose it needless that the conscience of the penitent should be examined, and that the priest should be instructed to examine it, is to show a want of good sense that men would be ashamed of in any question of politics, commerce, or social science. It is a pity, they who are so ready to quote, translate, or caricature our books, when it seems to suit their purpose, should not quote and translate other passages in them, quite as easy to find. For on the threshold of treatises on some departments of moral science, none the less needful to divers classes of souls because they are painful and distressing, the student is solemnly warned to study with the fear and thought of God before his eyes; to study them simply for His glory and his neighbour's good; in a spirit, not of curiosity, but of humble prayer. Subjects, without which a treatise on moral science would be as fatally incomplete as an imperfect treatise on physical healing, are entered upon reluctantly, and treated just so far as is demanded by the good of souls. They are to be studied by those for whom alone they are intended. and, therefore, so written as to remove them from popular use. Students for whom these treatises are meant either possess or aspire to the supernatural gift of consecration to the priesthood. They are, by office, obligation, and rule, men of prayer, trained to keep their consciences jealously from every permitted thought of sin. They endeavour, and pray that divine grace may crown their endeavour, to look on the transgressions of their brethren as the sun looks on the foul places of earth, with undefiled eye; they only approach the field of swine that they may bring back from it the repentant prodigal.
Further, ecclesiastical students are warned that, when they enter on their ministry, and receive confessions, they are to be most careful in the questions they put. They are never to push them beyond what is really needful. They are to err on The side of too little rather than of too much; to consult more for the profit of souls than even for the integrity of the Sacrament; to avoid, above all things, suggesting, much more making known, what the penitent may be happily ignorant of.
In a word, prudence - the delicate and vigilant prudence of a saintly temper of soul, jealous for the divine honour and the good of others - is among the first qualities for a confessor. He is a physician of souls, bound to know his science thoroughly, and to apply it with careful, anxious discrimination. A medical man would be poorly furnished who had not read surgical treatises that gave detailed accounts of all manner of diseases and painful operations. Do these things corrupt or harden his heart, when his motive for the study is high and pure? Do people get up public meetings, and go about lecturing against him, because such books are on his shelves and such knowledge is in his head? Who denounces him as unworthy the confidence of the fathers of families, or of the purest of a nation's daughters, because he is a scientific surgeon, and not a mere blundering empiric? What the surgeon is in the physical order, the priest is in the spiritual. Rather, the priest has a science and an office as much more responsible, delicate, and needful than the other's, as the soul is more precious than the body, and the grace of God than bodily health or life.    There is a most true proverb, that the surgeon should have "an eagle's eye, a lion's heart, and a lady's hand." And this, in a higher and better sense, is what the careful, prayerful study of moral theology tends to make the confessor. How far does this common sense view of things enter into the statement regarding us, or even the wish and hope about us, of those who cater for the public attention, and for blind public prejudice, on the subject of confession?
Link (here) to a whole lot more by Fr. W. H. Anderson, S.J. his piece is entitled, Confession to a Priest: What it is Not, What it Does to Society, What to the Individual.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Sign Of The White Rose

On Sunday 8 September, the day after the long prayer vigil for peace in Syria – when some passages from texts written by Saint Thérèse of Lisieux were read out – Pope Francis received a white rose as a surprise. Francis considers the flower to be a “sign” linked to the devotion of the saint. The Archbishop of Ancona and Osimo, Edoardo Menichelli broke the news, with Francis authorisation. Bergoglio told him about the rose a day before the prelate was due to present a book in Pedaso, in the Italian region of Marche. The prelate recounted the story during the presentation. The book presented was an essay by theologian and writer Gianni Gennari entitled “Teresa di Lisieux. Il fascino della santità. I segreti di una dottrina ritrovata” (“Thérèse of Lisieux. The fascination of sainthood. Secrets of a rediscovered doctrine”) and published by Lindau. This was the book Francis took with him when he flew to Brazil last July.

“The Pope told me he received the freshly-picked white rose out of the blue from a gardener as he was taking a stroll in the Vatican Gardens on Sunday 8 September,” Mgr. Menichelli said. “The Pope sees this flower as a “sign”, a “message” from Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, whom he had turned to in a moment of worry the day before.” The Archbishop passed on the Pope’s greetings to those attending the book presentation, adding that he had been authorised to tell them about the rose. The Pope did not say anything about the white rose having any connection to the peace vigil for Syria the previous evening. But it is not hard to imagine that one of the Pope’s worries at the time was the international situation, the massacres in Syria and the West’s proposed intervention in the Middle Eastern country.

What significance does the white rose have for the Pope? Bergoglio mentions it in “El Jesuita” (“The Jesuit”), a book interview written by Sergio Rubin and Francesca Ambrogetti when he was still a cardinal. In a description the two journalists give of Bergoglio’s library in Buenos Aires, they write: 
We pause before a vase full of white roses standing on a shelf in the library. In front of it is a photograph of Saint Thérèse. “Whenever I have a problem,” Bergoglio explained to the journalists, “I ask the saint not to solve it, but to take it into her hands and to help me accept it and I almost always receive a white rose as a sign.” Pope Francis’ devotion for the Carmelite mystic who died at the young age of 24 in 1897, was canonized by Pius XI and proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by John Paul II in 1997, is common knowledge. 
Francis himself told journalists about it on the flight back from Rio de Janeiro after World Youth Day. When she was still alive, Thérèse had promised that when she died she would shower “rose petals” down from the sky, a sign of her intercession. "A soul inflamed with love can not remain inactive … If only you knew what I plan to do when I’m in heaven … I will spend my heaven by doing good on earth.” So during the peace vigil held in St. Peter’s Square on 7 September, the mysteries of the rosary were recited along with passages from the Gospel and verses from a piece of poetry written by the saint.
Link (here) to Vatican Insider

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fr. John C Rawe, S.J., On The Benefits Of Rural Living

St. Thomas Aquinas, the leader of Scholastic thinkers, gives us a very clear and helpful analysis of the problem of city life: 
Now since men must live in a group because they are not sufficient unto themselves to procure the necessities of life were they to remain solitary, it follows that a society will be more perfect the more it is sufficient unto itself to procure the necessities of life (Bk. I, c. i). For an individual to lead a good life two things are required. The first and most important is to act in a virtuous manner, for virtue is that by which one lives well; the second, which is secondary and as it were instrumental, is a sufficiency of those bodily goods whose use is necessary for an act of virtue (Bk. I, c. 15). 
Now there are two ways in which an abundance of foodstuffs can be supplied to a city. The first is where the soil is so fertile that it nobly provides for all the necessities of human life. The second is by trade, through which the necessities of life are brought to the town from different places. But it is quite clear that the first means is better. For the higher a thing is the more self-sufficient it is; since whatever needs another's help is by that very fact proven inferior. But that city is more fully self-sufficient which the surrounding country supplies with all its vital needs, than is another which must obtain these supplies by trade. A city which has an abundance of food from its own territory is more dignified than one which is provisioned by merchants. It is safer, too, for the importing of supplies can easily be prevented

Link (here) to the full text of the book entitled, RURAL ROADS TO SECURITY by Fr. John C Rawe, S.J. and Msgr Luigi Ligutti, LL.D

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Divine Exorcist

Tenth Station: Jesus is stripped. 

Our Lord told His Apostles that they were to regard themselves in the world as “lambs in the midst of wolves.” That phrase has a happy application to the divine Lamb of God Himself in the Sacred Passion. Here in this Tenth Station they surround Him, just like ravening wolves howling for their prey, ready to tear Him to pieces, their eyes glistening with an unholy eagerness as they look forward to this slaughter. And, all the more marked because of the contrast, there is the evident self-composure of the Lamb, His marvellous patience, His readiness to allow them to strip Him and offer Him up as Victim of their rage. The brutality of these wolves, and the self-possession of the Lamb who has fallen into their clutches — let us see how these two thoughts may help our understanding of the Tenth Station.

The wolves are but the instruments of sin, and sin always brutalises. Sometimes even the sinner’s very appearance changes sadly, and you can read in his face the beastliness of the life he is leading. The creature who, having deadened his own conscience, tricks innocence into the ways of vice, knows well he is a brute. The creature who is content to wallow in the gutter of a drunkard’s existence is lowering himself to the level of a brute. Even in such a degraded life, there will come moments when conscience will assert itself and the sinner be smitten with shame. Despite all his fine arguments for his sin, he is perfectly aware that in reality he is a fallen star, destined indeed to shine in God’s firmament, but, fallen now from that high eminence, he seems like to be besmirched and extinguished and finally buried forever in the depths of the cesspool of sin. Sin brutalises indeed, and we see it in this Station.

In sharp contrast with their brutality, there shines forth the beautiful self-possession of Our Lord. How a single gesture of anger or impatience on His part, however excusable it might be, would mar the loveliness of the events of the great drama! That wonderful patience of His is due, in the first place, to the fact that He is suffering all this voluntarily. For reasons we have seen, the Father wills the Son to suffer, and the Son’s Will is absolutely one with the Will of the Father. Let me look into the Sacred Heart and see there, stamped indelibly, the three words: Fiat Voluntas Tua! (Your Will be Done!) So His patience throughout is accounted for, first of all, by His love for the Father.

It is accounted for, too, by His love for us. It is common experience that when a man is immersed in some subject he is liable to become forgetful of many of the ordinary needs and conventions of life. A keen student will often forget to take his food; a soldier in the heat of fight will not advert to the wound he has received; an author will stare in amazement at his watch when he discovers that he has sat at his desk until long after midnight. Now, it is indeed true that Our Lord was vividly conscious of every pain and insult in the Passion, but it is also true that He is occupied throughout with an even more absorbing task. His task is to change these men about Him here, and those for whom they would stand in subsequent ages. Annas and Caiphas, Pilate, Herod — all those had been brutalised by sin. Satan had entered into them, and Christ’s Passion was to be a mighty exorcism. Annas and Caiphas, prototypes of the corruptors of innocence, had to be “Christified” — that corrupting influence destroyed and Christ’s love enthroned in its place. Judas, lover of money and the world, Christ longed to change, but Judas erected strong barriers against the tidal wave of Christ’s mercy. Pilate, slave of human respect, and Herod, creature of the gutter — let a realisation of the Passion seize hold of them — and the change Christ longs to effect must surely follow.
The divine Exorcist is still anxious about His task, for Annas and Caiphas, Judas Iscariot, Pilate and Herod, and the rest, still live and still thirst for His blood. If we might coin words, Our divine Lord’s task is to “de-Herodise” men — to exorcise them of the spirit of impurity. Or to “de-Pilatise” them — to drive far from men’s souls the base insincerity, the hypocrisy of the world. Or to “de-Judasise” them — to expel from their hearts the passion of avarice. Or to “de-Annasise” or Caiphasise” them — to destroy in them the contagion that corrupts others and leads them into sin.
Holy Church enjoins fasting and prayer on her priests before she permits them to exercise the office of exorcist. What pain, physical and mental, the divine Exorcist had to pay for the exercise of His office! And withal man, endowed with free will, can nullify the effect of the Passion in himself. He can prefer to remain a Judas or a Caiphas or a Pilate or a Herod.

He can sit down at the banquet-table of angels or he can crawl with the swine. Omnipotence taxes its powers to exorcise him, but he must give his free co-operation with grace. When he does, then Judas is driven forth, or Pilate or Herod or Annas or Caiphas. Then Christ enters into him. Then his soul becomes a temple. Then the den of thieves is a tabernacle. Then Christ’s task is done, the exorcism is effected.

Link (here) to the Stations of the Cross by Fr. Robert Nash, S.J.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fr. Warren C. Lilly, S.J. On The Catholic Church "She Is The Bride Of A Crucified Savior And The Spouse Of A Risen Redeemer."

The Catholic Religion is persecuted by the wicked and venerated by the good. She is reviled by the intolerant and admired by the fair-minded. She is hated by false prophets and deceitful leaders, but honored by the upright and worthy. She is calumniated and maligned by the hypocritical and glorified by the honest. She is assailed by the powers of darkness, but exonerated by time and justice. The reason is this: She is the bride of a crucified Savior and the spouse of a risen Redeemer.
She is the real and only rock of ages, the bulwark of law and order. Despite the false assumptions of her maligners, she is the guardian of science and the safeguard of morality. Against the enemies of mankind, she is the preserver of the human race, the salvation of the unborn. She is the fidelity of husband and wife; she is the homebuilder, the hope and harmony of parents and children. She is the foundation of the family, and the backbone of the nation. These powers are not of man. They are not of priests or bishops. They are of God.
 Go to the uttermost bounds of the earth; she is an all-nation faith, the true "International." She is ever ancient, ever new. She is apostolic in her teaching, in her worship and her authority. Her history is the history of the civilized world. She preserved the remnants of Greek and Roman culture and civilized the barbarian hordes of Europe and elsewhere. She Christianizes wherever she is allowed entrance and even wins her way against opposition and persecution. Only God could do what she has done. God works through her.

Link (here) to the piece by  Fr. Warren C. Lilly, S.J

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Excommunication Was Ordered By Pope Francis

Former Catholic Greg Reynolds
Victorian Catholic priest who spoke out against the church's positions on gay marriage and women becoming "I'm a bit annoyed, if not angry, at the process or lack of process," Mr Reynolds told AAP on Saturday. A spokesman for the Melbourne Archdiocese said the excommunication was ordered by Pope Francis. The spokesman said the excommunication was ordered because of Mr Reynolds' public teaching about women being ordained, as well as holding communion when he was not authorised to act as a priest. Mr Reynolds said he plans to continue his work with Inclusive Catholics, but was undecided about whether he will fight to have the excommunication overturned. priests has been defrocked and excommunicated. Former Western Port parish priest Greg Reynolds was this week presented with a letter from the Vatican, informing him that he had been removed from the priesthood and excommunicated from the church. Mr Reynolds said he first fell out of favour three years ago when he voiced his support for women being allowed to become priests, contrary to the church's official stance. He resigned from his parish in 2011, and started a group called Inclusive Catholics, which holds regular meetings in Melbourne. Mr Reynolds has also spoken out in favour of gay marriage. He said he had expected to be removed from the priesthood, but had not expected to be excommunicated.
Link (here)

Monday, September 23, 2013

I Am Not Tarzan

Johnny Weissmuller as Tarzan
Pope Francis brought laughter to a crowd of young people on Sunday when he told them he was not "Tarzan" but gets his staying power during times of difficulty from his faith. Speaking off the cuff at the end of a trip to Sardinia, he said he had recently marked the 60th anniversary of the day he first felt the vocation to be a priest. "I have not regretted it. And it's not because I feel like Tarzan and have the (physical) strength to go ahead," he said, prompting of laughter and applause for comparing himself to the fictional character raised by apes in the jungles of Africa. "No, I have not regretted it because always, even in the darkest moments, in the times of sin, in the times of fragility, in the times of failure, I looked to Jesus and I trusted him and he did not abandon me. He is a faithful companion," Francis said.
Link (here)

Fr. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J. Resigns As President Of Marquette University

Fr. Scott R. Pilarz, S.J.
The official statement from the University is reproduced below. Marquette President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., has “what’s the real story behind this?” We don’t claim any inside sources, but a common assumption seems to be that Pilarz simply wasn’t a good fundraiser. He he didn’t have the gregarious personality necessary to glad-hand alumni and others who might write big checks to Marquette. He has not been around long enough for us to have a distinct impression of him, but we have liked what we have seen. He had the gumption to pull official sponsorship from the salacious FexSem seminar that was being sponsored by the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center last spring. More importantly, he canned Provost John Pauly after allowing him to serve a “decent interval.” Then he made it clear that, with Pauly’s replacement, there was going to be a fundamental change in how the University is run. When Albert J. DiUlio, S.J. took over the presidency of Marquette in 1990, he shifted the balance of power in the University away from the “academic side” toward the “business side” of the organization. Where before the bureaucrats running the business affairs of the institution had been rather deferential to deans, department chairs and even individual faculty members, they began to dictate all kinds of decisions. Pilarz has promised that the new Provost who replaces Pauly will be the “number two person” in the administration. That is, will dominate the business side of the institution. That’s a massive change for the better. So we wish Pilarz well. And as we always must be at a time like this, we are apprehensive for the future of Marquette.
resigned. This came as a shock to the campus. And of course, everybody is asking

Official Statement

Dear alumni, parents and friends:

As chair of the Marquette University Board of Trustees, a fellow alumnus and Marquette parent, I’m writing tonight to let you know that Marquette University President Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., has informed the Board of Trustees of his resignation in order to pursue new apostolic work.

Father Pilarz informed the Board of Trustees of his resignation now to allow the university to begin its search to have a new president in place for the 2014-15 academic year. He will stay on as university president through the end of the first semester of the 2013-14 academic year, which ends on Dec. 14. Marquette will begin the search process for a new permanent president immediately.

In a news release sent out tonight, Father Pilarz said, “After 10 years as a university president, I believe the time has come to consider other apostolic opportunities for me as a Jesuit priest. I have made this decision after much prayer, discernment and conversation with religious superiors, my spiritual director and others whose counsel I have sought over the past three years.”

During his tenure as president, Father Pilarz guided Marquette into a newly reconfigured Big East conference, hired a dean for Marquette’s largest college, the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences, and collaborated across campus with faculty, staff and students to develop a university-wide strategic plan. He also led significant renovations for the university’s historic core buildings of Johnston Hall, Marquette Hall and Sensenbrenner Hall, as well as an expansion of the School of Dentistry.

The entire Board and I thank Father Pilarz for his accomplishments and dedication to Marquette, our faculty, our students, and our alumni, parents and friends throughout the world. As Chair of the Board and a proud alumnus, I take immense pride and responsibility for ensuring the mission and innovative spirit of our Catholic, Jesuit tradition continues well into the future. The Board of Trustees and I have the utmost confidence in the university leadership currently in place and will work closely with them to map out a transition plan for the future success of this great university.


Charles M. Swoboda, Eng ‘89
Chair, Marquette University Board of Trustees

Link (here) to the Marquette Warrior

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Big Pope Francis Interview

“Holy Father, what made ​​you choose to enter the Society of Jesus? What struck you about the Jesuit order?”

“I wanted something more. But I did not know what. I entered the diocesan seminary. I liked the Dominicans and I had Dominican friends. But then I chose the Society of Jesus, which I knew well because the seminary was entrusted to the Jesuits. Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline. And this is strange, because I am a really, really undisciplined person. But their discipline, the way they manage their time—these things struck me so much. “And then a thing that is really important for me: community. I was always looking for a community. I did not see myself as a priest on my own. I need a community. And you can tell this by the fact that I am here in Santa Marta. At the time of the conclave I lived in Room 207. (The rooms were assigned by drawing lots.) This room where we are now was a guest room. I chose to live here, in Room 201, because when I took possession of the papal apartment, inside myself I distinctly heard a ‘no.’ The papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace is not luxurious. It is old, tastefully decorated and large, but not luxurious. But in the end it is like an inverted funnel. It is big and spacious, but the entrance is really tight. People can come only in dribs and drabs, and I cannot live without people. I need to live my life with others.”
Link (here) to America Magazine for the full read.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Seattle University To Host Angela Davis

A Catholic university in Washington has invited communist and abortion supporter Angela Davis to speak on campus, raising concerns among those who say her views are anathema to Catholic teaching. Davis will give a lecture on October 17th at Seattle University, a Jesuit institution. Her talk is sponsored by the Center for the Study of Justice in Society, and will ostensibly be about prison reform.
Davis is a controversial choice for a Catholic university, however. She is a former leader of the U.S. Communist Party, and ran for vice president twice in the 1980s on the Communist ticket. She holds socially liberal views at odds with Catholic teaching, including the view that abortion rights are a “fundamental prerequisite for the emancipation of women.”
These views should disqualify her from a speaking slot at a Catholic university, wrote James Bascom of TFP Student Action, a conservative education group. “It would be difficult to find a speaker who contradicts the teaching of the Catholic Church on more levels than Angela Davis,” he wrote in a blog post for TFP Action. “Stalin maybe?” Catholic institutions should recognize the death and destruction wrought by communism in the 20th century and decline to honor one of the ideology’s devotees with a guest lecture, wrote The College Fix. Seattle University did not respond to a request for comment.
Link (here) to The Daily Caller

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"The Strange Separation Of The Church From Blue-Collar Working People"

What Went Wrong?
by Father Paul Mankowski, S.J.
An Address to the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy -
July 15, 2003

What went wrong, and why?
Everyone in the room will rightly understand the question to refer to The Crisis, the daily revelation over the past eighteen months of numberless instances of priestly turpitude, episcopal mendacity, and the resultant bewilderment and fury of the laity. My own take on the problem, which I offer for your consideration, is that the Crisis is chiefly surprising in how unsurprising it is. No one who has been fighting the culture wars within the Church over the past twenty years can fail to recognize his own struggles with a hostile bureaucracy and conflicted hierarchy in the struggles of those pleading for relief from sexual abuse -- notwithstanding the disparity in the attendant journalistic drama. In fact, I'd contend that the single important difference in the Church's failure regarding abusive clergy and the failures regarding liturgy, catechesis, pro-life politics, doctrinal dissent and biblical translation is this: that in the case of the sex abuse scandal we've been allowed a look over the bishops' shoulders at their own memos. Deviant sexual assault has accomplished what liturgical abuse never could: it has generated secular media pressure and secular legal constraints so overwhelming that the apparat was forced to make its files public. What we read in those files was shocking, true, but to most of us, I suspect, it was shocking in its sense of daja vu. The housewife who complained that Father skipped the Creed at mass and the housewife who complained that Father groped her son had remarkably similar experiences of:
  • being made to feel that they themselves were somehow in the wrong;
  • that they had impugned the honor of virtuous men;
  • that their complaints were an unwelcome interruption of more important business; - - that the true situation was fully known to the chancery and completely under control;
  • that the wider and more complete knowledge of higher ecclesiastics justified their apparent inaction;
  • that to criticize the curate was to criticize the pastor was to criticize the regional vicar was to criticize the bishop;
  • that to publicize one's dissatisfaction was to give scandal and
  • would positively harm discreet efforts at remedying the ills;
  • that one's duty was to keep silence and trust that those officially charged with the pertinent responsibilities would execute them in their own time;
  • that delayed correction of problems was sometimes necessary for the universal good of the Church.

This picture was meant to describe the faithful's dealing with the normally operating bureaucracy, in which the higher-ups are largely insulated. Occasionally someone manages to break through the insulation and deal with the responsible churchman himself. In this case another maneuver is typically employed, one I tried to sketch eight years ago in an essay called "Tames in Clerical Life": In one-on-one situations, tames in positions of authority will rarely flatly deny the validity of a complaint of corruption lodged by a subordinate. More often they will admit the reality and seriousness of the problem raised, and then pretend to take the appellant into their confidence, assuring him that those in charge are fully aware of the crisis and that steps are being taken, quietly, behind the scenes, to remedy it. Thus the burden of discretion is shifted onto the subordinate in the name of concern for the good of the institution and personal loyalty to the administrator: a tame must not go public with his evidence of malfeasance lest he disrupt the process -- invariably hidden from view -- by which it is being put right. This ruse has been called the Secret Santa maneuver: "There are no presents underneath the tree for you, but that's because Daddy is down in the basement making you something special. It is supposed to be a surprise, so don't breathe a word or you'll spoil everything." And, of course, Christmas never comes. Perhaps most of the well-intentioned efforts for reform in the past quarter century have been tabled indefinitely by high-ranking tames using this ploy to buy their way out of tough situations for which they are temperamentally unsuited. What I've put before you are two scenarios in which complaints of abuses are brought to those in authority and in which they seem to vanish -- the complaints, I mean, not the abuses. One hoped that something was being done behind the scenes, of course, but whatever happened always remained behind the scenes. As the weeks went by without observable changes in the abuse and without feedback from the bureaucracy, one was torn between two contradictory surmises: that one's complain had been passed upstairs to so high a level that even the bishop (or superior) was forbidden to discuss it; alternatively, that once one's silence had been secured and the problem of unwelcome publicity was past, nothing whatsoever was being done. Now the remarkable thing about The Crisis is how fully it confirmed the second suspicion. In thousands and thousands of pages of records one scarcely, if ever, is edified by a pleasant surprise, by discovering that a bishop's or superior's concern for the victim or for the Faith was greater than that known to the public, that the engines of justice were geared up and running at full throttle, but in a manner invisible to those outside the circle of discretion. Didn't happen. I think this goes far to explain the fact that when the scandals broke it was the conservative Catholics who were the first and the most vociferous in calling for episcopal resignations, and only later did the left-liberals manage to find their voices. Part of our outrage concerned the staggering insouciance of bishops toward the abuse itself, but part, I would argue, was the exasperation attendant on the realization that, for the same reasons, all our efforts in the culture wars on behalf of Catholic positions had gone up in the same bureaucratic smoke. I take issue, then, with commentators who refer to the Crisis as an ecclesial "meltdown" or "the Church's 9-11" or who use some similarly cataclysmic metaphor. Whatever there was to melt down had already done so for years, and that across the board, not just in priestly misconduct. Therefore, in addressing the question, "what went wrong, and why?" I need to try explain not simply the sex-abuse scandals but the larger ecclesial failure as well, weaknesses that existed even before the Second Vatican Council. Paradoxically, one of the major factors in the corruption of clerical life at the end of the 20th century was its strength at the beginning of it. Here I quote from James Hitchcock:

A gloomy fact about clerical life is that, with the possible exception of the very early centuries, there was no time in the Church's history when such life was idyllic. The Middle Ages had their share of misbehaving priests, and the ordinary parish clergy were uneducated and part of a peasant culture which was in some ways still pagan. The Counter-Reformation made strenuous efforts to improve the state of the clergy, not least through the establishment of that institution which ought to have been obvious but for some reason had not been -- the seminary. Even despite these efforts, clerical scandals and various kinds of clerical incompetence long continued, amidst occasional saintly priests and many others of solid piety and zeal. In the United States the period cl900-l960 can be considered a golden age of the priesthood, not merely in modern times but throughout all the Catholic centuries. (This golden age was not confined to America but existed in other countries as well.) While priests of that era certainly had their faults, by all measurable standards there was less ignorance, less immorality, less neglect of duty, and less disobedience than at almost any time in the history of the Church. More positively, priests of that era were generally pious and zealous, and those who were not at least had to pretend to be.

Not only was the reality of priestly character in good shape, but the reputation of Catholic clergymen was likewise high. This brought with it several problems. First, being an honorable station in life, the clerical life provided high grass in which many villains and disturbed individuals could seek cover. I would estimate that between 50 and 60% of the men who entered religious life with me in the mid-70s were homosexuals who had no particular interest in the Church, but who were using the celibacy requirement of the priesthood as a way of camouflaging the real reason for the fact that they would never marry. It should be noted in this connection that the military has its own smaller but irreducible share of crypto-gays, as do roughnecks on offshore drilling rigs and merchant mariners ("I never got married because I move around so much it wouldn't be fair on the girl..."). Perhaps a certain percentage of homosexuals in these professions can never be eliminated. I further believe that the most convincing explanation of the disproportionately high number of pedophiles in the priesthood is not the famous Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers Theory, but its reverse, proposed to me by a correctional officer at a Canadian prison. He suggested that, in years past, Catholic men who recognized the pederastic tendency in themselves and hated it would try to put it to death by entering a seminary or a monastery, where they naively believed the sexual dimension of life simply disappeared. It doesn't disappear, and many of these men became active pedophiles.

This suggestion has the advantage of accounting for the fact that most priests who are true pedophiles appear to be men in their 60s and older, and would belong to a generation of Catholics with, on the one hand, a strong sense of sexual mortal sin and, on the other, strong convictions about the asceticism and sexual integrity of priestly life. To homosexuals and pedophiles I would add a third group, those I call "tames," who are men incapable of facing the normally unpleasant situations presented by adulthood and who find refuge, and indeed success, in a system that rewards:
  1. concern for appearance,
  2. distaste for conflict, and
  3. fondness for the advantageous lie.

In sum, the social prestige and high reputation that attached to the post-WW2 priesthood made it attractive to men of low character and provided them with excellent cover. A second key factor in the present corruption is loss of the bishops' ability for self-correction. This problem has institutional and personal dimensions. The model of episcopal collegiality in place since the Council has not increased the mutual good-will of the bishops, but has, paradoxically, made the appearance of good-will obligatory in nearly all situations. Once more I turn to James Hitchcock. Speaking of the Church's necessary recourse to diplomacy in dealing with militarily superior nation-states, Hitchcock says:

It is ironic and discouraging that in the modern democratic era, when the Church enjoys the blessings of complete independence from political control, diplomacy still seems necessary, now often concentrated on internal ecclesiastical matters. It appears, for example, that the Pope is not free simply to appoint bishops as he sees fit, but that an elaborate process of consultation, of checks and balances, takes place, after which successful candidates are often people who have no highly placed enemies. The Holy See now appears to treat national episcopal conferences, and the numerous religious orders, almost as foreign powers. Scrupulous correctness is observed at all times, formal verbiage masks barely hidden disagreements, and above all potential "incidents" are avoided. ... This endemic practice of diplomacy within the Church has yielded small results. Abuses have been tolerated not for the sake of unity but merely for the "appearance" of unity, which itself soon becomes an over-riding concern.
Because what matters most in this mindset is perception, the appearance of unity, it has become virtually impossible to remove a bad bishop without prior public scandal -- "public" here meaning notorious in the secular sphere, through the mass media. When the scandal is sexual or financial, it seems the Holy See can move quickly to remove the offender. When the scandal is in the arena of heresy or administrative irregularity or liturgical abuse, there is almost never enough secular interest generated to force the Holy See's hand. Bishops Milingo and Ziemann and Roddy Wright have many brethren; Bishop Gaillot has few. Intermediate reform measures like seminary visitations are doomed to failure for the same reason; there simply is no possibility in the present disposition for a hostile inspection, where the visitators try to "get behind" the administration and find the facts for themselves. To do such a thing would be to imply lack of trust in the administration and hence in the bishop responsible for it, and such an imputation is utterly impossible. The same is true in bishops' dealing with universities, learned societies and religious congregations. The only permissible inspections are friendly inspections, where the visitators ask the institution under scrutiny for a self-evaluation, which, of course, will be overwhelmingly positive and which will render the chances of reform almost nil. A priest official in a Vatican dicastery whom I trust told me that the needed reforms will never take place unless the Church undoes Pope Paul VI's restructuring of the Vatican curia, whereby the Secretariate of State has become a kind of super-bureaucracy -- no longer charged simply with the Holy See's relations to other nations but with de facto control over the relations of the Vatican dicasteries to one another of the Holy See to its own bishops. In practice the Secretariate of State not only sets the tone for the Holy See's dealings but often sets the agenda as well, ensuring that the diplomatic concern for appearances will prevail over the need for reforms involving unpleasantness, and exercising indirect influence over the selection of bishops, characteristically men of diplomatic demeanor if not experience.

This profile goes far to explain why telling the truth is a problem for a large number of bishops, many of whom seem baffled and hurt when their falsehoods are not taken at face value. All embassies, moreover, have a high number of homosexuals in their staffs, and the Vatican diplomatic corps in no exception. The combination of the physical comforts attendant on diplomatic service, the skill at bureaucratic manipulation and oblique methods of pressure, the undercurrent of homosexual decadence, and the alacrity with which truth is sacrificed to expediency do not make an environment conducive to reform. The dominion exercised by the Secretariate of State means that many good-willed attempts to clean house go nowhere, and will continue to go nowhere in the future, being lost in its corridors or disfigured beyond recognition. A third answer to "What Went Wrong?" concerns a factor that is at once a result of earlier failures and a cause of many subsequent ones: I mean sexual blackmail. Most of the men who are bishops and superiors today were in the seminary or graduate school in the 1960s and 1970s. In most countries of the Western world these places were in a kind of disciplinary free-fall for ten or fifteen years. A very high percentage of churchmen who are now in positions of authority were sexually compromised during that period. Perhaps they had a homosexual encounter with a fellow seminarian; perhaps they had a brief heterosexual affair with a fellow theology student. Provided they did not cause grave scandal, such men were frequently promoted, according to their talents and ambition. Many are competent administrators, but they have time-bomb in their past, and they have very little appetite for reform measures of any sort -- even doctrinal reforms -- and they have zero appetite for reform proposals that entail cleaning up sexual mischief. In some cases perhaps, there is out-and-out blackmail, where a bishop moves to discipline a priest and priest threatens to report the bishop's homosexual affair in the seminary to the Nuncio or to the press, and so the bishop backs off.

More often I suspect the blackmail is indirect. No overt threat is made by anyone, but the responsible ecclesiastic is troubled by the ghost of his past and has no stomach for taking a hard line. Even if personally uneasy with homosexuality, he will not impede the admission and promotion of gays. He will almost always treat sexuality in psychological terms, as a matter of human maturation, and is charity of the language of morality and asceticism. He will act only when it is impossible not to act, as when a case of a priest's or seminarian's sexual misconduct is known to the police or the media. He will characteristically require of the offender no discipline but will send him to counseling, usually for as brief a period as possible, and will restore him to the best position that diocesan procedures and public opinion will allow him to. Note: sexual blackmail operates far beyond the arena of sexual misconduct. When your Aunt Margaret complains about the pro-abortion teachers at the Catholic high school, or the Sisters of St. Jude worshiping the Eight Winds, or Father's home-made eucharistic prayer, and nothing is done, it is eminently likely that the bishop's reluctance to intervene stems from the consciousness that he is living on borrowed time. In short, many bishops and superiors, lacking integrity, lack moral courage. Lacking moral courage, they can never be reformers, can never uproot a problem, but can only plead for tolerance and healing and reconciliation.

I am here sketching only the best-case scenario, where the bishop's adventures were brief, without issue, and twenty years in his past. In cases where the man continues his sexual exploits as a bishop, he is of course wholly compromised and the blackmail proportionately disastrous. A fourth element in the present corruption is the strange separation of the Church from blue-collar working people. Before the Council every Catholic community could point to families that lived on hourly wages and who were unapologetically pious, in some cases praying a daily family rosary and attending daily mass. Such families were a major source of religious vocations and provided the Church will many priests as well. These families were good for the Church, calling forth bishops and priests who were able to speak to their spiritual needs and to work to protect them from social and political harms. Devout working class families characteristically inclined to a somewhat sugary piety, but they also characteristically required "manly" priests to communicate it to them: that was the culture that gave us the big-shouldered baritone in a lace surplice.
Except for newly-arrived immigrants from Mexico, Vietnam and the Philippines, the devout working class family has disappeared in the U.S. and in western Europe. The beneficial symbiosis between the clerical culture and the working class has disappeared as well. In most parishes of which I'm aware the priests know how to talk to the professionals and the professionals know how to talk to the priests, but the welders and roofers and sheet-metal workers, if they come to church at all, seem more and more out of the picture.
I think this affects the Church in two ways: on the one hand, the Catholic seminary and university culture has been freed of any responsibility to explain itself to the working class, and notions of scriptural inspiration and sexual propriety have become progressively detached from the terms in which they would be comprehensible by ordinary people; on the other hand, few priests if any really depend on working people for their support.
In a mixed parish, they are supported by the professionals; in a totally working class parish, they're supported by the diocese -- i.e., by professionals who live elsewhere. That means not only does Father not have to account for his bizarre view of the Johannine community, but he doesn't have to account for the three evenings a week he spends in lay clothes away from the parish. A related but distinct factor contributing to the Crisis is money. The clergy as a whole is enormously more prosperous than it was a century ago. That means the clergyman is independent of the disapproval of the faithful in a way his predecessors were not, and it also means he has the opportunities and the wherewithal to sin, and sin boldly, very often without detection.
Unless he makes unusual efforts to the contrary, a priest today finds himself part of a culture of pleasure-seeking bachelordom, and the way he recreates and entertains himself overlaps to a great extent that of the young professional bronco. Too often, regrettably, the overlap is total. But even when a priest is chaste, by collecting boy-toys and living the good life he finds himself somewhat compromised. He may suspect a brother priest is up to no good by his frequent escapes to a time-share condo, but if he feels uneasy about his own indulgences he is unlikely to phone his brother to remonstrate with him. My own experience of religious life is that community discussion of "poverty issues" is exceptionlessly ugly, partly because almost everyone feels vulnerable to criticism in some aspect or other, partly because there's an unspoken recognition that poverty and chastity issues are not entirely unrelated. As a consequence, only the most trivial and cosmetic adjustments are made, and the integrity of community life continues to worsen. One more point, perhaps more fanciful than the others. I believe that one of the worst things to happen to the Church and one of the most important factors in the current corruption of the clergy is the Mertonization of monastic life.I may be unfair to Thomas Merton in laying the blame at his feet and I don't insist on the name, but I think you all can recognize what I mean: the sea change in the model of contemplative life, once aimed at mortification -- a death to self through asceticism - now aimed at self-actualization, the Self has taken center stage. This change is important because, in spite of 50-plus years of propaganda to the contrary, the monastic ideal remains a potent ikon in any priest's self-understanding.
  1. Simplicity of life,
  2. fidelity to prayer, and
  3. obedience
all have different orientations in the case of
  1. a canon,
  2. a friar, and
  3. a diocesan priest, obviously,
but they are all monastic in transmission and all essential to the clerical life. Where monastic life is healthy, it builds up even non-monastic parts of the Church, including and in particular the lives of priests in the active apostolate. Where the monastic life is corrupt or lax, the loss extends to the larger Church as well -- it's as if a railing is missing one side of a balcony. When I was preparing for priesthood my teachers lamented what they called the "monastic" character of pre-conciliar seminaries and houses of formation (fixed times for common prayer, silence, reading at meals, etc) complaining that such disciplines were ill-suited to their lives because they were destined not to be monks but pastors, missionaries and scholars.

But looking at the lives of my contemporaries one of the things most obviously lacking is an appetite for prayer fed by good habits of prayer, habits which are usually the product of a discipline we never had.  The same is true of asceticism and self-denial generally. When laypeople enter priests' living quarters today, they rarely seem to be impressed by how sparse and severe our living arrangement are. They rarely walk away with the impression that the man who lives here is good at saying no to himself. Yet monks are, or used to be, our masters at saying no to the self. Something went wrong. Putting the same idea in another perspective, it's wryly amusing to read commentators on the sexual abuse problem recommend that priests be sent to a monastery for penance. What penance? Is there a single monastic house in the United States where the abbot would have the authority, much less the inclination, to keep a man at hard labor for twenty months or on bread and water for twenty days? Let me sum up. I believe the sexual abuse crisis represents no isolated phenomenon and no new failure, but rather illustrates a state of slowly worsening clerical and episcopal corruption with its roots well back into the 1940s. Its principal tributaries include
  1. a critical mass of morally depraved and psychologically defective clergymen who entered the service of Church seeking emoluments and advantages unrelated to her spiritual mission, in addition to
  2. leaders constitutionally unsuited to the exercise of the virtues of truthfulness and fortitude.

The old-fashioned vices of lust, pride, and sloth have erected an administrative apparatus effective at transmitting the consolations of the Faith but powerless at correction and problem-solving. The result is a situation unamenable to reform, wherein the leaders continue to project an upbeat and positive message of ecclesial well-being to an overwhelmingly good-willed laity, a message which both speaker and hearer find more gratifying than convincing. I believe that the Crisis will deepen, though undramatically, in the foreseeable future; I believe that the policies suggested to remedy the situation will help only tangentially, and that the whole idea of an administrative programmatic approach -- a "software solution" if I may put it that way -- is an example of the disease for which it purports to be the cure. I believe that reform will come, though in a future generation, and that the reformers whom God raises up will spill their blood in imitation of Christ.

In short, to pilfer a line of Wilfrid Sheed, I find absolutely no grounds for optimism, and I have every reason for hope.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cardinal Avery Dulles, S.J. "Little Or No Encouragement From Catholic Clergy"

Asked whether spreading the faith was a high priority of their parishes,75 percent of conservative Protestant congregations and 57 percent of African American congregations responded affirmatively, whereas only 6 percent of Catholic parishes did the same. Asked whether they sponsored local evangelistic activities, 39 percent of conservative Protestant congregations and 16 percent of African American congregations responded positively as compared with only 3 percent of Catholic parishes. Converts to Catholicism often report that on their spiritual journey they received little or no encouragement from Catholic clergy whom they consulted.
Link (here) to Ralph Martin's disturbing look at Catholic de-Sacramentalization. In this essay you will find Cardinal Dulles' quote.

Friday, September 6, 2013