Tuesday, April 15, 2008

US Pro Abortion Catholic Politicians Expect to Receive Communion at Papal Mass

UPDATE: see end of post

Michael Hichborn, American Life League’s (ALL) media director, reports that pro-abortion Catholics are expected to try to receive Communion when the Holy Father holds Mass on Thursday.

ALL is the largest anti-abortion advocacy organization in the U.S. and has run a full page message to Pope Benedict XVI in the Washington Times. The message can be viewed here in pdf format.

The Politico wrote a good story today about the possible renewal of the abortion debate during the Pope’s visit and made reference to the ads placed by ALL.

The conflict could come to a head Thursday, when the pope is scheduled to celebrate a Mass at the Washington Nationals’ new ballpark. The Vatican has invited all Catholic lawmakers, and many abortion-rights-supporting Catholics — including Kerry and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — are expected to attend.

In ads placed in The Washington Times and Politico this week, the anti-abortion-rights American Life League is urging the pontiff to “protect the body of Christ from the bloodstained hands of pro-abortion ‘Catholics’” by denying Communion to politicians who support abortion rights.

Unfortunately, it was a troubling sign when

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said she knows of no plan to deny Communion to particular lawmakers Thursday.

“You presume that everyone there knows the rules of the church and follows them,” she said. “No one is policing that. People go to church and people go to Communion if they feel in their heart they are prepared to receive Communion.”

Since when was “feeling in their heart” a rationale in Catholic teaching for the commission of objectively evil and sinful actions?

I venture to say the Pope must be in a state of constant prayer during this trip, being heavily weighed down in heart with the import of his message to America. My hope is that God will make a way possible for Benedict XVI during his visit to achieve a strong unequivocal expression of the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of human life and the urgent need to take precise measures in its defense.

UPDATE: Pope "deeply ashamed" of priestly abuse
During an exchange with reporters who accompanied him on today's flight from Rome to Washington, Pope Benedict XVI said that he was "deeply ashamed" of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Cardinal Schoenborn Unwittingly Allows Blasphemous Museum Display

It’s no surprise that a Catholic Bishop is entrusted with the protection and defense of the Catholic faith in his diocese. Now imagine an Austrian Bishop who also happens to have a Roman Catholic museum in his Diocese. Furthermore, let’s say this same Bishop is aware of an upcoming exhibit of artwork by someone he has paid homage to as "one of Austria's most important living artists."

Of this artist, the Bishop believes "Like nearly no other artist, he is concerned about suffering and mistreated people ... and he expresses this in his work in a shocking way." The Bishop knows that the artist is a communist and an atheist, but believes “he nevertheless has a burning interest in the Bible."

These things being the case, you would think such a Bishop might take precautions before the art exhibit opens to ensure it meets up to acceptable Catholic standards, right? Just in case, right? Because, you know, there have been issues of this sort in times past, right?

But no. Apparently the Bishop dropped the ball. Precautions were not taken.

And complaints started to come in.

Some people are now asking, “Is it art - or is it blasphemy?” But it’s a no-brainer, really.

Austrians are locked in a nationwide debate touched off by the brief display in a prestigious Roman Catholic museum of an etching that depicts Jesus Christ and his disciples having an orgy during the biblical Last Supper.

A chastened and chagrined Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, the top churchman in this largely conservative and overwhelmingly Catholic country, has ordered the offending artwork removed.


The dispute began on March 12 with the opening of "Religion, Flesh and Power," a collection of about 50 paintings, drawings and sculptures - some with homo-erotic themes - by Austrian artist Alfred Hrdlicka.


"The exhibition does not mean that the cathedral museum identifies with all of Hrdlicka's works," Schoenborn said.

"Of course, I would not have agreed to the presentation of works which are blasphemous or pornographic. I therefore expressly regret that a picture of this kind - without my knowledge - was included in the exhibition. This picture, which is injurious to the faithful, was removed on my orders on March 20."

But prior to this, there were reports that the Cardinal had defended the exhibit.

It’s hard to say exactly what happened here but doesn’t the Cardinal have someone he pays to look after this sort of thing? Kaufmann, the curator, said he was caught off-guard by the intensity of the debate and Bernhard Boehler, director of the cathedral museum, said he was “surprised at the heat of the battle" over the orgy drawing.

Regardless, the whole mess falls in the Cardinal’s lap, where it truly belongs.

For example, exactly why does the Cardinal employ a director at the museum who seems completely insensitive and unaware of what’s at stake in such controversies? And make no mistake about it—what’s at stake is scandal and the salvation of souls.

Catholic Bishops as a whole need to be much more concerned about preserving the faithful from confusion and scandal. To me, scandals such as this, along with perhaps the greatest scandal of all—the ongoing desecration of the Holy Eucharist by dissenting Catholics—is one of the greatest causes today leading to a misrepresentation and misunderstanding of the faith by non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

In turn, the resulting obfuscation of the faith and the demoralization of the faithful leads to unbelief, heresy, atheism, and secularization.

Scandal has always been held to be a serious matter in Catholic teaching. It has the potential of deadening the conscience and sending people to Hell. And considering what Jesus Himself said about bringing offense to His little ones, Bishops more than anyone else should be keeping their eyes wide open and their ears close to the ground.

Although I’ve never been able to track down the actual reference, it is widely reported that St. John Chrysostom maintained, "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops!"

God help them to do better!

[Note: LifeSiteNews also carried this story in two separate reports here and here.]

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Abuses in Catholic Liturgy Attributed to Lack of Serious Spirituality

So says the Bishop of a Brazilian community that celebrates the Mass according to the 1962 missal, reports Zenit News. Bishop Fernando Rifan spoke with ZENIT about the richness of the extraordinary form of the Mass. The use of that form was extended with Benedict XVI's "Summorum Pontificum," released last July.

Behind this is the lack of a serious spirituality, [the idea that] to attract the people, novelties should be invented. Holy Mass is attractive in itself, because of its sacredness and mystery. Deep down, we're dealing with the diminishment of faith in the Eucharistic mysteries and an attempt to replace it with novelties and creativity. When the celebrant wants to become the protagonist of the liturgical action, abuses begin. It is forgotten that the center of the Mass is Jesus Christ.

A few thoughts from Quebec’s Cardinal Gagnon, who recently passed away, were also shared.

Cardinal Edouard Gagnon was of the same opinion. "It cannot be ignored that the [liturgical] reform has given rise to many abuses and have led in a certain degree to the disappearance of respect for the sacred. This fact should be unfortunately admitted and it excuses a good number of those people who have distanced themselves from our Church and their former parish communities [in] "Fundamentalism and Conservatism," interview with Cardinal Gagnon, "Zitung -- Römisches," November-December 1993, page 35.

If you are a novice in regard to the controversies in the Catholic Church surrounding the Mass, here’s a few resources.

Primer on the Mass …a sweeping but brief look at the Mass.

The Eucharist: Source and Summit of Christian Spirituality Pt 1 and Pt 2 …a more detailed and excellent examination of the Mass (Holy Eucharist) by Catholic convert Mark Brumley

Differences Between the Traditional Latin Mass and the Novus Ordo …simple explanation of the differences in the two forms of Mass, with many other helpful links.

Vatican Makes Available Roman Missal for US Visit of Pope Benedict XVI

Only three more days before Pope Benedict XVI touches down in Washington for his stupendous five day US visit!

The Vatican has released a Missal providing texts, prayers, and hymns for all the liturgical ceremonies at which Pope Benedict XVI will preside during his visit to the US.

It includes the Scripture readings, texts, and prayers for Mass and the other prayer services the Pope will lead. An appendix provides the texts of some common Catholic prayers, in English and Spanish.

Read more here and get the link to download the Missal.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Documentary “Expelled” Exposing Atheism and Causing Liberal Mass Meltdown

Earlier this week pro-life blogger extraordinaire Jill Stanek interviewed Expelled producer Mark Mathis for her WorldNetDaily column.

"Expelled" calls attention to the plight of highly credentialed scholars who have been forced out of prestigious academic positions because they proposed Intelligent Design as a possible alternative to Charles Darwin's 150-year-old theories about the origins of life.

Instead of entertaining a debate on the merits of competing theories, the scientific establishment has moved to suppress the ID movement in a "systematic and ruthless" way at odds with America's founding principles, the film asserts.

Predictably, “liberals” have been flipping out over this film. It plainly connects atheism and Darwinism “with no missing link.” I don’t know how successful the documentary will turn out to be but so far it has certainly revealed true colours and ruffled many feathers.

Read all the details in Jill’s WorldNetDaily column as well as her most recent blog posting.

Another High-Profile Evangelical Becomes Catholic

From Mommy Life blog

Just heard that Paul McCusker, the creator/writer of Focus on the Family's Odyssey series has become Catholic.

Take a look around Barbara's blog. She's well worth adding to your blogroll.

Archbishop Raymond Burke Issues Extra-Judicial Decree Against Canon Lawyer

Archbishop Raymond L. Burke has pronounced Father Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., a priest and canon lawyer, guilty of having committed canonical delicts (crimes) and has issued an extra-judicial decree obliging him to repay fees and prohibiting him from representing anyone in Church legal proceedings in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

In fulfillment of my solemn duty to exercise vigilance over any human matter, so that abuses do not creep into ecclesiastical discipline, and in so far as this is required for the safeguarding of fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls…the present Decree is issued…

The Archbishop continues to do the difficult and gritty work of a true Bishop in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

Why does he bother to go to such lengths?

My guess?

  • because he knows and believes the power of sin and its awful consequences.
  • because he truly cares for the souls of everyone under his diocesan charge.
  • because he wishes to be obedient to the Church and to Jesus Christ, the Chief Shepherd.
  • because he is more fearful of failing God than man.

All distinguishing trademarks of a true Shepherd and an authentic Catholic Bishop.

Unholy Sacrament of a Corrupt Christian Society

Strangely aware of the sexual modernism which has invaded the church and fulminating against the sinister threats to modern society, Christian spokespersons of our day claim the high moral ground. They exhort us constantly to resist today’s “Evil Empire” which is commanded largely by homosexuals, Islam, atheists and secularists.

Deeply alarmed at the relentless assault upon biblical “values” and decrying heresies such as “revisionist ‘pro-gay’ scriptural arguments” they call Christians to stand fast in the unalterable two thousand year old “Faith of our Fathers.”

They are not remiss in discussing moral relativism and reminding one another of the uncompromising position of Martin Luther:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.

Yet they seem entirely oblivious to their near universal departure from that body of truth on the point of contraception—which is, “precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking.”

Like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, they have eyes to see but they see not. Jesus warned them that, although they claimed Moses and the prophets as their father, they had in fact rejected the fathers of their Jewish faith. In similar manner, the vast majority of today’s Christian leaders are quick to quote the Bible and Martin Luther yet unwilling to give even passing thought, let alone discussion, to the possibility of their own disobedience and blindness.

I’ve said much about this matter on other occasions.

The article below offers more of the same. And as I’ve said before, this subject does not have to be viewed as a showdown between Catholics and Protestants. The question is simply: In regard to human sexuality, what has two thousand years of constant Christian teaching declared?

Why is the Catholic Church opposed to birth control? Where in the Bible is birth control condemned as being contrary to the Will of God?

The Catholic Church is not opposed to birth control when it is accomplished by natural means, by self control. She is opposed only to birth control by artificial means, by the employment of pills, condoms, IUD's, foams, jellies, sterilization, non-completion of the act of sexual union--or any other means used to prevent conception from resulting from this act--because such means profane the marital embrace and dishonor the marriage contract.

God slew Onan for practicing contraception (Gen. 38:9-10); the word "onanism" derives from Onan's deed. In fact, up until the Church of England's Lambeth Conference of 1930, which accepted contraception and thus broke with the Christian tradition, contraception had been considered by all Christian churches, both Catholic and Protestant, to be gravely sinful. The Catholic Church does not feel free to change the law of God, as do Protestants.

In the New Testament, there is only one instance where sin is punished by God with immediate death, this was the fate of Ananias and Sapphira, a husband and wife who went through the motions of giving a gift to God but fraudulently kept back part of it. The Bible says they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:1-11). In contraception, two people go through the motions of an act of self-giving, but obstruct the natural fruition of their act, i.e., the conception of children, which is the ultimate purpose for which God created sexuality.

Sexual union is a gift from God to the married, but by practicing contraception, married couples are accepting the pleasure God built into the act and yet denying Him its purpose, new people. They are in effect mocking God. But "Be not deceived, God is not mocked." (Gal. 6:7). Christ cursed the fig tree which, despite a fine external appearance, bore no fruit. (Matt. 21:19; Mark 11:14). Marriage is God's plan for populating Heaven, yet contracepting couples refuse Him the specific fruit of their marriage, which is children, when they engage in the act which should produce children yet frustrate the natural, God-intended result.

Further, the sin of "sorceries'' or "witchcrafts'' ("pharmakeia'' in the Greek--Gal. 5:20; Apoc. 9:21; 21:8)--which the Bible condemns along with fornication, murder, idolatry, and other serious sins--very possibly includes secret potions mixed to prevent pregnancy or cause abortion. Such potions were known and used even in the first century.

Common sense and conscience both dictate that artificial birth control is not only a violation of the Natural Law but is a perfidious insult to the dignity of man himself. For it implies free reign to physical impulses; it implies total disregard for the fate of the human seed; it implies utter contempt for the honorable birth of fellow humans, those fellow humans who are born as the result of a contraceptive having failed and whose very existence is therefore considered to be an unfortunate ``accident,'' rather than a gift of God; it implies the most extreme selfishness, for no advocate or practitioner of artificial birth control would have wanted it for his or her own parents.

Further, contraception undermines the respect of husband and wife for each other and thereby loosens the marriage bond. Worst of all, many "contraceptives,'' such as the IUD and most if not all birth control pills, work by actually causing an abortion early in the pregnancy; thus, this so-called "contraception'' is in reality abortion--the killing of a human being--rather than the preventing of conception.

In every age there is some favorite sin which is accepted by "respectable" worldly Christians; in our times the "acceptable'' sin is contraception--a sin which fits in perfectly with the view that the purpose of human life is to attain earthly happiness. The true Christian couple, on the other hand, will realize that God desires them to have children so that these children can come to know Him and love Him and be happy with Him eternally in Heaven.

Marriage is God's plan for populating Heaven. How wise it is to let God plan one's family, since He loves children much more than do their earthly parents and His plans for them go far beyond any plans of these parents. Innumerable stories are told of God's Providence to Christian parents who trusted in Him and obeyed His law. For those who have a true and serious need to space or limit the number of their children, the new methods of natural family planning based on periodic abstinence have proven to be extremely reliable (unlike the earlier "rhythm'' methods) .

Finally, the Christian will realize that the self-denial involved in bearing and raising Christian children is a school of Christlikeness. Our Lord said: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.'' (Matt. 16:24). But He also said: "My yoke is sweet and my burden light.'' (Matt. 11:30). God promises sufficient grace to those who seek to obey Him. And the resulting peace of soul which the obedient married couple enjoys is beyond all price.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Dr. Peter Kreeft: Pro-Choice People are Insane

This report is about a week old but is certainly worth highlighting.

Dr. Kreeft is one of the pre-eminent Catholic philosophers of our time. I remember being greatly edified with a series of his audio messages just over a year ago. In particular, his message entitled “How to Win the Culture War” seemed so profound yet so Christian in its call to action.

Recently, Dr. Kreeft delivered an address at the Annual Parish Respect Life Coordinator Conference in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joseph Wemhoff was present and took extensive notes during the talk, summarized in this report.

Jam packed with insight and nuggets galore, Kreeft’s address, "We are living in a spiritual Hiroshima," is challenging for all Christians but will especially appeal to Catholics.

Here’s some reference to Kreeft’s comments about the insanity of “pro-choice” mindset.

Pro-choice people will not-indeed, cannot-listen to reason. Pro-choice people are insane and will not convert to reason-they will attempt to convert reason. Dr. Kreeft cited several cases. In one of his books-which, he bemoaned, are read only by pro-lifers-he made an airtight, logical argument that tolerating abortion is tantamount to tolerating infanticide. Confronted with this logic, pro-choicers said, yes, Dr. Kreeft, you just showed us how infanticide is now OK.

Well worth reading the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Why do You Call Your Priest "Father"?

Third in a series of “Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked.”

See the initial posting.


"And call no man you father your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven" (Mt 23:9).

In this passage, Jesus is teaching that God the Father alone is ultimately the source of all authority. But He is not speaking absolutely, because if so, that would eliminate even biological fathers, the title "Church Fathers." the founding fathers of a country or organization, and so on. Jesus himself uses the term "father" in Matthew 15:4-5; 19:5, 19, 29; 21:31, John 8:56, and several other places.

In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, Jesus actually has Lazarus using the address "Father Abraham" twice (Luke 16:24, 30. See also Acts 7:2; Rom. 4:12; James 2:21).

St. Paul
also uses the term when he writes, "I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel" (1 Cor. 4:15. See also 1 Cor. 4:14-16), and refers to "our forefather Isaac" (Rom. 9:10).


More Resources

**An excellent yet brief explanation by John Martignoni of Christian Bible Society

**More detailed apologetic from Catholics United for the Faith
'Call No Man Father'? Understanding Matthew 23:9

Monday, April 07, 2008

Catholic Website Drawing Thousands Back to the Faith

Catholic News Agency reports some phenomenal results from a Catholic lay organization that is succeeding in bringing people back to the Catholic Church through its unique website ministry and television ads.

In less than three weeks, 3,000 Catholics returned to the Church in the Diocese of Phoenix due to the effort of a new lay apostolate, CatholicsComeHome.org. The program consists of a website and commercials aired on local television that effectively portray the truth and goodness of the Catholic Church.

It’s a very comprehensive website and people are directed to the site through very compelling and professional videos. Visitors are provided with answers to questions about Church teachings and why strong faith is important in today’s busy and confusing world. The site also offers an overview of the faith, with additional resources and a local parish finder.

Seventy-eight of the 100 participants had positive responses to the ads. In another assessment, the organization found that before watching the videos, 90% of the participants had negative impressions of the Catholic Church. After viewing ads one time, 54% had a much more favorable impression. Hearts and minds were changed after viewing these creative and inspired ads.

The video ads are all available on the website.

Not only have people enjoyed the video clips, but they have also succeeded in bringing people back to the Church. One woman, Angela, said that she became an agnostic 20 years ago. After watching the video she commented, “How is it that after seeing the commercial one time, I go to the CatholicsComeHome.org website, look up my local church and go home?”

It's a fantastic idea and obviously every diocese ought to have just such a website and program to help wayward and lost souls.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Support Pro-Life Culture. Buy Butterfly for 99¢

"Butterfly rising: got 99¢?"

That’s the title of one of Jill Stanek’s recent posts.

I wrote earlier this week about the pro-life country song we need to help make a hit.

Butterfly, by the band Bluefield, has a beautiful message that has already saved at least 3 babies' lives.

Listen to it. Save a life maybe.

I Give Michael Coren the Benefit of the Doubt

My last posting was an attempt to defend the notion that those who do not adhere to and espouse (all) the moral precepts advanced by the Roman Catholic Church and historic Christendom may rightfully be labeled as moral relativists.

The more controversial issues of our day which fall in this category I would conclude to be contraception, abortion, divorce and homosexuality. As I noted in an earlier critique on the progression of conservative thought, conservatives appear to be the night watchmen at the liberal (de)construction site insofar as these moral precepts are suffering increasing compromise under their watchful and silent eyes.

My critique tagged Michael Coren with the same label but I was subsequently challenged to produce some evidence for my claim. All I really had at the time to support my opinion was a hodgepodge of impressions from several years of reading Coren or viewing him on his TV show.

No doubt the man is growing in his faith as a Catholic—as I am—and so there was little point in going back in ancient history simply to retrieve ammunition for my claim.

Conclusion: I’ve waded through a significant amount of online articles and records but I have not found anything of substance which definitively places him in the camp of the moral relativists. On the point of contraception, which is the normal tell tale issue and the big giveaway, I note that Coren has been very careful indeed, if not somewhat ambiguous, in his language. No doubt he realizes the hazards of speaking forthrightly to his readers on this subject.

Perhaps this fact alone does bring him one very big step closer to deserving the label, but at this point it would be premature as far as I can see. Coren did make an important appearance at the Humanae Vitae 2006 Conference as a conference speaker on abortion, although the context of the conference was “Why the Church is right and why the culture is wrong about contraception.”

I think the most helpful collection of Coren’s thoughts on these various moral issues appeared about a year ago in the Toronto Sun in a column entitled Hey bishop, follow don't edit. See what you think.

Not the funny bishop though. "We must challenge the church's condemnations throughout the centuries of such things as masturbation, birth control, abortion, and homosexuality." When I was a boy we had a word for people who approved of masturbation. Mind you, I think we also had a word for people who couldn't think straight.

Perhaps we should also challenge the church's condemnation throughout the centuries of such things as poverty, cruelty, injustice and hatred. After all, those condemnations come from the same Bible, the same God, the same Jesus that necessitates the condemnation of sexual immorality.

Issues of sexuality are complex and demand compassion. But we can declare some absolutes. We are given sexuality both for pleasure and for procreation. To abuse it is little different from abusing strength or money. So just as we reject the bully or the loan shark we reject the person who uses sex only for selfish purposes.

To misunderstand this is to misunderstand human nature and divine love. Sex wouldn't be pleasurable unless God had wanted it to be and it seems to me that those who know this best are genuine Christians with their large families and their obvious joy in life.

Abortion is about power. The power of an adult over the least powerful being on Earth, the unborn child. To take innocent life is fundamentally anti-Christian and is, again, an abuse of that power. The ultimate abuse. Not sure how anybody who claims to believe in social justice cannot understand this.

Homosexuality? Constant understanding for the individual but unwavering commitment to historic and unchanging Christian teaching. It's so easy to appear fashionable but so meaningless. If we compromise on truth we might as well compromise on goodness as well.

This certainly constituted a most rare assault on the culture and mentality of our day and Coren is to be commended. I suppose I am still feeling a little stung by some of my past impressions of Coren and particularly by one of his very recent columns in February past on Archbishop Rowan Williams.

Coren was, as usual, insightful and witty in his remarks. However, when he said, “Roman Catholicism and the evangelical church stand firm and, no surprise at all, Islamic and Jewish orthodoxy are growing steadily,” I think he really muddied the waters badly.

The fact is that what we see as the “normal” Canadian practice of "Roman Catholicism” is largely a charade and counterfeit. Some reference by Coren to official teachings or the Magisterium would have been essential because his ordinary readers live amongst pseudo-Catholics and have little or no understanding of official Catholicism.

Secondly, it simply isn't true that the evangelical church (ecclesial communities) is standing firm. I speak from experience. They are actually disintegrating along with their more liberal and dead Protestant brethren and all the while encouraging a more pervasive culture of personal moral relativism. There are really only a small number of "evangelicals" standing firm and I suspect those might prefer the term "fundamentalists." The evangelical "church" is only one or two steps from the coffin itself. I was disappointed that Coren wasn’t clearer on that.

But in the meanwhile, until new evidence comes to light, I apologize to Michael Coren for lumping him indiscriminately with conservative type moral relativists. In fact, as I said in my previous posting “It would be a very pleasant outcome indeed to discover that I was wrong about Michael Coren.”

Keep the (objective & absolute) good stuff coming Michael!

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Moral Relativism: Cause and Cure

Recently, I stepped into a discussion of “progressive” conservatives and moral relativism. I promised a follow up post on a point raised in that discussion. Before I get to that post, I’d like to clarify my understanding of what constitutes “moral relativism.”

The following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia entry “Veritatis Splendor” with only the pertinent hyperlinks retained.

Veritatis Splendor (Latin for "The Splendor of Truth") is an encyclical by Pope John Paul II. It expresses the position of the Catholic Church regarding fundamentals of the Church's role in moral teaching. The encyclical is one of the most comprehensive and philosophical teachings of moral theology in the Catholic tradition. It was promulgated on August 6, 1993.


Veritatis Splendor responds to questions of moral theology that had been raised in the Church, especially in the latter half of the 20th century. These questions revolve around man's ability to discern good, the existence of evil, the role of human freedom and human conscience, mortal sin, and the authority of the Magisterium of the Catholic Church in guiding man. In response to these, Pope John Paul II emphatically insists that moral truth is knowable, that the choice of good or evil has a profound effect on one's relationship with God, and that there is no true contradiction between freedom and following the good.

Response to moral relativism

Veritatis Splendor begins by asserting that there are indeed absolute truths accessible to all persons. Contrary to the philosophy of moral relativism, the encyclical insists that moral law is universal across people in varying cultures, and is in fact rooted in the human condition. Pope John Paul teaches that no matter how separated someone is from God, "in the depths of his heart there always remains a yearning for absolute truth and a thirst to attain full knowledge of it." He goes on to say that the splendor of truth "shines forth deep within the human spirit.

Moral authority of the Catholic Church

Ultimately, John Paul teaches, "to ask about the good, in fact, ultimately means to turn towards God, the fullness of goodness." Against the idea that the Church's teaching body has a mainly exhortatory role, the pope reiterates the Catholic doctrine that the Magisterium of the Catholic Church has authority to definitively pronounce on moral questions. Even more, John Paul teaches that the Church is Christ's particular response to help answer everyone's question of what is right and wrong.

Counting the above excerpt as a good summary of the teaching of Veritatis Splendor and its detailed refutation of moral relativism, it is clear that writers particularly must enunciate and defend those same moral precepts as the Church’s in order to avoid the label “moral relativist.”

One need not be a Catholic to do so, although Catholics—more than anybody else—ought to be the least confused about this subject, given the clear and constant teaching of their Church. However I believe it can be shown that until the early part of the twentieth century, virtually all Christians held unanimously to the same moral code as that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Which was very much an important point of my previous posting.


More resources on moral relativism:

Audio mp3 of moral relativism from philosopher Peter Kreeft
A Refutation of Moral Relativism
Transcription of audio here with cogent summary here

Stand to Reason: The Intolerance of Tolerance

Clever Google video on AbsoluteTruth

Friday, April 04, 2008

Pope's US Trip Not Just for Catholics

Benedict XVI is said to bring “an amazing theological depth to ecumenical and interreligious relations."

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- When Benedict XVI travels to the United States this month, ecumenical and interreligious relations are a priority on his agenda, according to an aide of the nation's conference of bishops.

Father James Massa, executive director of the U.S episcopal conference's Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, said this is because "the Pope is convinced that there will be no peace in the world until there is peace among the religions. That is why he comes to the table of dialogue here in the U.S. and in Rome, with hope and abiding conviction."

Read the rest of this encouraging and insightful article by Zenit news.

And please pray for the Pope’s upcoming visit to America. He goes as Supreme (earthly) Pastor and, in certain significant aspects, the salvation of an entire nation is at stake.

Pew Forum Finds Clear Demographic Changes in American Catholicism

No other major faith in the U.S. has experienced greater net losses over the last few decades as a result of changes in religious affiliation than the Catholic Church.

So finds the Pew Forum in a profile of America's Catholic population released in advance of Pope Benedict's visit to the US.

I don’t imagine that it was commissioned in order to impress the Pope.

Only 41% of self-identified adult Catholics attend Mass each week, the Pew study found. That number is lowest among young adults, with just 30% of Catholics aged 18- 29 attending Mass weekly (by comparison, the figure is 63% among those over the age of 65)—a figure that suggests still greater decline in the number of active Catholics in coming years.

Who, other than the Bishops of America, can address this awful calamity? My prayer is that Benedict’s visit may stir them to the depths of their half-heartedness.

I suspect a Canadian survey would reveal much the same trend except even more advanced in apostasy.

The entire profile can be found on the Pew Forum web site.

MercatorNet Confronts and Dissects Their Enemies

Do you subscribe to MercatorNet’s weekly newsletter? I recommend their articles.

This is what they claim about themselves.

We're proud to have enemies and we attack them repeatedly by confronting them with evidence. Here they are: moral relativism, scientism, crass commercialism, utilitarianism, materialism -- in short, any ism which reduces persons to ciphers and treats them as soulless machines. We delight in dissecting media cliches.

I highlight in particular three items from this week’s mailing of MercatorNet.

Who's oppressing who?
Barbara Kay, one of Canada's leading newspaper columnists takes on the ideology of feminism.

What's wrong with postmodernism?
Islam is not the only ideology competing for the loyalty of the West.

The donut of liberal history
In a new book about the evolution of liberty in the West, 1500 years of Christian civilization counts for nothing.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Why Do You Obey the Pope?

Second in a series of “Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked.”

See this previous posting.


Why Do You Obey the Pope?

Catholics believe that Jesus commissioned St. Peter as the first leader of the Church.

Matthew's Gospel has the most direct biblical indication of the papacy: "And I tell you, you are Peter [meaning literally "Rock"], and on this rock I will build my church...I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 16:18-19). Based on this statement of Jesus himself, Peter is clearly portrayed in the New Testament as the leader of the disciples.

A pope can make infallible, binding pronouncements under certain conditions. Infallibility doesn't mean that absolutely everything a pope says is free from error. All Christians believe that God protected Holy Scriptures from error, by means of inspiration, even though sinful, fallible men wrote it.

We Catholics also believe that God the Holy Spirit protects His Church and its head from error (John 14:16), by means of infallibility, even though imperfect men are involved in it.


Other good resources dealing with this same question:

Two short Q & A from The Augustine Club here and here

The Primacy of Peter

From Catholics: What do they Believe?

Downloadable mp3 entitled Apostolic Authority and the Pope

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Of Course Late Term Abortions Take Place in Canada as Well

Only last week, Suzanne at Big Blue Wave posted about the reality of late term abortions taking place in Canada (and elsewhere) and the skepticism expressed by abortion advocates towards such claims.

The debate over the truth of such claims has intensified in recent days amidst the controversy surrounding Bill C-484. Today, Suzanne posts again on the subject, sharing information obtained from British sources.

The study looked at 239 abortions performed at this tertiary centre, between the years 2000 and 2005.

The range of gestational ages were from 20 weeks, 6 days to 36 weeks, 3 days. Practically full-term, if you ask me.

They were killed by injecting potassium chloride into the baby's heart. I know some of you who are reading probably delivered children at that age.

Imagine taking that same baby and injecting potassium chloride into his heart.

That's just sick.

But hey, fetuses are not that important! And fetuses are none of our business. As Joyce Arthur would say. If they happen to suffer an injection of potassium chloride to the heart, well, too bad. They're not "living breathing" human beings, so their pain doesn't count. They had the misfortune of not drawing oxygen through their lungs, their welfare and suffering is utterly irrelevant.

Never mind that these babies would have had to been expelled through a normal delivery process anyway. They could have been delivered live and given palliative care. They would have been "living, breathing" by then, but since they're not before, who cares, right?

Yes, it is a shocking reality that this same barbarism takes place in Canada as well, at least to some extent, perhaps at a rate comparable to the British statistics.

But bear in mind that whether 24 weeks old or 24 days old, the Unborn are human beings and killing them at any stage is a grave moral offense.

If you’d like to get more details on the late term version of child killing and you have the stomach for it, you can do this search on Suzanne’s blog and scroll down through a long list of postings on the subject.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Are You Saved?

29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" 31 They said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." Acts 16:31

“Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ,” as Paul and Silas noted above, is a brief and practical response to the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

For the serious and anxious enquirer, who seeks a fuller answer to this question for the good of his/her eternal soul, please refer to this summary.

For professing Christians, we recognize the Holy Scriptures have more to say than simply the words of Acts 16:31—and the evidence is plain that not all Christians have agreed with the Catholic Church in its presentation of the truth regarding salvation.

Evangelical Christians have done an exceedingly effective job in forcing Catholics—many nominal, some not—to ask themselves whether such terminology applies to them. Often, Catholics will ask, “How should I respond to someone who asks me if I've been saved, or born again?”

It is hoped that Catholics might be ready to reply with a resounding, "Yes!" to those who ask them such a question.

Tell them that it is through Baptism that you were saved, just as the Bible says in 1 Peter 3:20-21 and that it is through Baptism, water and the Spirit, that you are "born again," just as the Bible says in John 3:5.

You see, many Protestants believe that they are saved by making one single act of faith at one single point in time in their lives. Nowhere does Scripture say such a thing. As Catholics, however, we believe that salvation is a process which begins with our Baptism and continues throughout our lifetimes, just as the Bible teaches us.

There are so many places in Scripture, which talk about how one is "saved", but not one of them says we are saved by one act of faith at just one point in time. As I just mentioned, 1 Peter 3:20 says we are saved by baptism. In Hebrews 12:14 it says that we will not see the Lord unless we are holy, and that we have to strive for this holiness. In Matthew 6:14-15, it says we must forgive others or we will not be forgiven. Can you attain salvation if God hasn't forgiven you? No! So, our forgiving others is necessary for our salvation.

1 Tim 2:15 says that woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with modesty. John 6:54 says we will have eternal life by doing something...eating the flesh and drinking the blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In Matthew 19, verses 16 and 17, Jesus is asked directly what one must do to have eternal life. Did He say, Accept me into your heart once and that’s it? No! Jesus said to keep the commandments and you will have life.

Yes, as Catholics we are born again. And, as Catholics we believe that we were saved, as Paul says in Rom 8:24; that we are being saved, as Paul says in 1 Cor 1:18; and that we will be saved, as Paul says in Rom 5:9-10, provided we persevere and keep our eyes on the prize. Salvation is a process, just as Catholics believe, and just as the Bible clearly teaches.

John Martignoni of Christian Bible Society

There’s more on this subject in one of my former posts, found here.

The Renewal of Baptismal Promises

At Easter time in the Catholic Church, new Christians are baptized and received into the Church and the faithful renew their baptismal vows.

The vows are words which carry tremendous weight and serve as a powerful testimony of a heart turned (turning) to Christ. It is a formula leading to new life in Christ.

If you are outside the fold of Christ, the Good Shepherd, these are words which, when spoken—even silently—from the heart, will start you on a journey to Jesus, the God-Man and Saviour of the world.

I, [your name], who through the tender mercy of the Eternal Father was privileged to be baptized "in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 19, 5) and thus to share in the dignity of his divine Sonship, wish now in the presence of this same loving Father and of his only-begotten Son to renew in all sincerity the promises I solemnly made at the time of my holy Baptism.

I, therefore, now do once again renounce Satan; I renounce all his works; I renounce all his allurements.

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born into this world and who suffered and died for my sins and rose again. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

Having been buried with Christ unto death and raised up with him unto a new life, I promise to live no longer for myself or for that world which is the enemy of God but for him who died for me and rose again, serving God, my heavenly Father, faithfully and unto death in the holy Catholic Church.

Taught by our Savior's command and formed by the word of God, I now dare to say:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.


If you prayed this prayer for the first time and would like to follow the Lord Jesus Christ in baptism, please visit a Catholic Church and meet with the priest who will guide you further.

May God bless you and keep you faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ for ever and ever.


P.S. Why not follow up this important posting with another?

4MYC Urges Canadians to Push Hard on Bills C-10 and C-484

A very important bit of work which the people at 4MYCanada are asking all Canadians to undertake has to do with two current bills before parliament.


2. CONTINUING TO WORK AT SEEING C-484 (Unborn Victims of Crime Bill) PASSED!

Please click through on this link to their latest ACTION email and do everything you possibly can in support of these urgent initiatives which will make Canada a safer, more just society for us and our children.

Ottawa Archbishop to Meet with Clergy and Laity in St. John’s, Newfoundland

For the benefit of fellow Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. John's
Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has made the news recently with some bold comments. On April 15, the Archbishop will be meeting with clergy and laity in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
(St. John’s, NL) Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Archdiocese of Ottawa will be meeting with the clergy and laity of the Archdiocese of St. John’s in April to discuss the Catholic concept of Stewardship.
Rene Estrada who is responsible for developing the Stewardship process in the Archdiocese of St. John’s described stewardship as “involving a spiritual relationship with God. “He continued Stewardship is not a program, but a way-of-life, based in Scripture. The four pillars of stewardship are hospitality, prayer, formation and service.

The one day presentation by Archbishop Prendergast is seen as an opportunity to invite and encourage clergy and parishioners to experience, witness and live the stewardship way of life in response to their baptismal call to discipleship.

Muslim Scholar Denounces Vatican Baptism as Deliberate and Provocative

UPDATE: see below

Deliberate? Apparently so. Provocative? Not if you know anything about Benedict XVI.

It was big news just a week ago when Benedict XVI baptized a prominent convert from Islam during Easter. There has been some fallout though, as predicted.

VATICAN CITY (AP) - A Muslim scholar who participated in recent Vatican talks to improve Catholic-Muslim relations criticized Pope Benedict XVI's Easter baptism of a prominent convert from Islam as a "provocative" act.

Magdi Allam, an Egyptian-born TV and newspaper commentator who has denounced Islam as inherently violently, was baptized by the pope in a vigil service Saturday night in St. Peter's Basilica.

Aref Ali Nayed, director of the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center in Amman, Jordan, criticized what he called "the Vatican's deliberate and provocative act of baptizing Allam on such a special occasion and in such a spectacular way."

I thought it was very telling indeed that the Vatican newspaper admitted to the Pope’s desire to make an important statement about religious freedom, something which I had immediately pointed out.

The Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano denied that the baptism had been played up, saying it was kept secret until just before the ceremony. It described the baptism as a papal "gesture" to stress "in a gentle and clear way, religious freedom."

Not so gentle perhaps, but unequivocally clear.

UPDATE: Cautious Vatican response to Muslim critics on conversion

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Are Catholic Beliefs Found in the Bible?

Catholics are often asked tough questions about their Catholic faith and its relationship to the Bible. Here are the ten most-asked questions and the answers, in admittedly brief format, which should help to satisfy the questioner.

Adapted from a pamphlet available from Our Sunday Visitor entitled “Top Ten Questions Catholics Are Asked” and written by Dave Armstrong, the ten most asked questions are as follows:

1. Are Catholic beliefs found in the Bible?
2. Why do you obey the Pope?
3. Why do you call your priest "Father"?
4. Why do you pray for the dead?
5. Why do you pray to idols (statues)?
6. Why do you confess your sins to a priest?
7. Why do you worship Mary?
8. Why do you worship wafers?
9. If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?
10. Are you saved?

In this posting, I will deal with question #1. I will post on the other questions over the next few weeks.


Are Catholic beliefs found in the Bible?

All Catholic beliefs can be found in the Bible in some form, whether plainly or by indirect indication. It is not necessary for everything to be absolutely clear in Scripture alone, because this is not the teaching of Scripture itself. Scripture also points to an authoritative Church and Tradition, as St. Paul points out in his Second Letter to the Thessalonians: "Stand firm and hold to the traditions you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess 2:15 -- See also 1 Cor 11:2; 2 Thess 3:6; 2 Tim 1:13-14; 2:2).

When the first Christians had a significant disagreement they didn't simply open their Bibles (they didn't even exist at that point) to decide who was right; they held a council, which made binding decrees (Acts 15:1-29). The very books of the Bible had to be determined by the Church, and that didn't happen until the late fourth century. Therefore, human tradition and authority were necessary for us to even have a Bible today. If you believe that the Bible is infallible then you should also believe that the Church that decided which books should be in the Bible is the Church that has the Truth and has kept it complete and whole for 2000 years (1 Tim 3:15).

[This pamphlet is also available online.]

Thursday, March 27, 2008

C484: A Bill about Justice, Not Abortion

Published today in the editorial section of The Telegram, Newfoundland & Labrador's daily provincial paper.


C484: A Bill about Justice, Not Abortion

by Eric Alcock

Lane Jr. was 27 weeks old, still in the womb, when his mother Olivia Talbot was fatally shot twice in the head in 2005 by a childhood friend. Baby Lane perished too. Olivia had been shot three times in the abdomen as well. No charges could be laid in Baby Lane’s death.

When Aysun Sesen, 25 and seven months pregnant, was brought to hospital in October 2007 with multiple and fatal stab wounds to her abdomen, her fetus still had a faint heartbeat but died shortly thereafter. Her husband was charged with her slaying. No charges could be laid in the unborn child’s death.

Five pregnant women have been murdered in Canada in the past three years. Unquestionably, the torment of the grieving families of the victims due to their double loss is compounded by the impossibility of securing justice for their newest family member. They say society refuses to recognize their loss. How profound their pain!

Bill C-484 brings justice to these unborn children and their families. C-484 is titled “Unborn Victims of Crime Act,” and will amend the Criminal Code to prosecute attackers who injure or kill an unborn child during the commission of a crime against the mother.

Thus far, the word “abortion” is as distant from the discussion as green cheese. Why? Because C-484 has nothing to do with abortion. The bill explicitly excludes abortion. Clear headed and fair minded Canadians obviously agree. An Angus-Reid poll showed 70% of Canadians support this legislation, with only 19% of women suspecting the government of a sneak attack on abortion rights.

Joyce Hancock of the Newfoundland and Labrador Feminist Coalition recently captured the attention of The Telegram by claiming the federal conservatives were using C-484 as a back door attack to outlaw abortion. Ask Hancock what she sees in the bill and she’ll tell you abortion.

But I’ll let you in on the secret here. What she really sees is a law that recognizes the fetus as a distinct entity, separate from the mother and worth something. And that scares her because radical feminists and abortion advocates have unceasingly drummed into Canadians that, in effect, the fetus does not exist until it’s born. That’s their justification for abortion, which, incidentally, happens to kill the fetus every time. But it’s no excuse for fear mongering and misrepresentation over C-484.

They’ll tell you the bill grants a “form of personhood” or legal status to the fetus. It plainly doesn’t. They’ll try to sidestep the fetus by saying the “real issue” is domestic violence, not losing an unborn child, or that it does nothing to stop violence against women. Perhaps they should check the title of the bill. It’s not a domestic violence bill. We have those already and if they’re ineffective, let them put their energies into improving them.

They’ll tell you the bill blunders through a loophole in favour of perpetrators of domestic violence or that double charges won’t change anything because criminals serve concurrent sentences anyway. False—they’re grasping at straws.

Liberal MP’s in our province voted against this bill. Provincial Opposition Leader Yvonne Jones immediately pledged support for Hancock but admitted she hasn’t even read the bill! How telling. Shame on them all!

Get fully informed about C-484. Visit MP Ken Epp’s website where you can examine the bill from every possible angle. Contact your own MP as soon as possible and urge support for this bill which corrects a serious flaw in our justice system.