Sunday, July 21, 2013

Bishops Must Lead To Recover the Catholic Vote

In an article entitled “How to Recover the Catholic Vote” over at Crisis magazine, Matthew Hennessey makes the case that:

Ensuring our survival in the public square will require brave and faithful Catholics to step up, sally forth, and get their hands dirty doing politics. Politics leads to power, and power is what it will take to beat back these unprecedented intrusions on our basic rights and constitutionally guaranteed religious freedoms.

This is not a job for the bishops. This is a job for Catholics who are interested not just in fighting the battle, but in winning it.

He says it’s “unclear why the bishops have been so reluctant to meet steel with steel” but maintains that it’s really up to the average faithful Catholic to get the courage to step up to the plate and change things.

This is a very naive perspective in my opinion and completely discounts the role of Bishops in shaping the moral and political landscape of a nation, particularly one with a ready-made Christian heritage. The author doesn’t expect much from the Successors of the Apostles. One wonders why Jesus even inserted them into the equation if, when the going gets tough, the only tough ones to get going are the laity.

Some of the comments accompanying this article indicate that a good number of readers hold Bishops responsible but if lay Catholics are to do anything they must start expecting much more from their Bishops and Priests. If there is any hope of recovery in our land, the key lies in the words of Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen:

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to you, the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious."

Take this statement very seriously…and decide today what you can do to fulfil your “mission”, as the Archbishop described it. Apathy is not an option. It will prove fatal.

UPDATED: The quote from Archbishop Sheen may seem contradictory, on the surface, to my point that Catholic Bishops must lead in the spiritual (but also moral and political, if at times only indirectly) battle. It may appear that the Venerable Archbishop is saying that the laity--not the Bishops--must save the Church but note carefully the means by which the laity are to save the Church. They are to save it by holding Bishops and Priests accountable to their calling and responsibility under God. At the end of the day the words and actions of duly ordained Church leaders will mold and fashion our society into a righteous or unrighteous people. Clearly then, our future is greatly dependent on a sort of dynamic tension between laity and ecclesiastics.

I think it's fair to apply this passage to the relationship:
Iron sharpeneth iron; So a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend. Proverbs 27:17

Parable of Poverty, Dead Children And A Religious Coalition

We are strolling down the street with representatives of the Religious Social Action Coalition. We have come from a faraway country to learn strategies for dealing with poverty in our own country, having learned of the formation of this remarkable Coalition.

They are about to take us on a tour of the streets of St. John’s and show us the reality of child poverty, which they claim needs to be urgently addressed—even abolished—because children are needlessly suffering every day.

As we walk and they share with us their exciting vision of a city and a province without poverty, a horrid sight suddenly overcomes us. There on the sidewalk is the lifeless body of an extremely young child, severely lacerated and with some body parts even missing. We are immediately repulsed and horrified.

“What,” we exclaim, “has happened here to this child? Surely a great and violent crime has been perpetrated against this child and neither the criminal nor the neighbourhood has had the decency to ensure a proper burial! Furthermore it is obvious that the police have not even been called to inquire into this greatest of all injustices against an innocent child!”

Leaders of the Coalition assure us not to be alarmed. They note that we are likely to see at least three of these children in such condition in the city of St. John’s each day that we are on our tour, some of them even much younger than this child and some of them entirely in small pieces as if shredded.

We protest and demand how it is that this can be so. Leaders try to calm us and assure us that this is not a problem to be concerned with. They would like to hurry us along past the dead child and further along into the tour. But we protest further, insisting that we must know more about these heinous crimes that are taking place against innocent children in this great city of St. John’s. We simply cannot move past this child and resume the tour until the grave injustice has been explored and understood.

The Coalition emphasizes that this is not their mandate and that they have chosen to look at other ways in which they can help children and their families, poverty being what they consider to be the most pressing matter. They boast that the urgency of addressing poverty was such an animating force among the leaders of the Coalition that never before in the history of NL is there a record of such a diverse group of religious leaders from all faiths coming together with a united voice to address such a great injustice.

But immediately we ask the leaders, “But what of these children lying in the streets, violently killed and disposed of in such an inhuman, undignified manner? What of justice for them? And why did not such a diverse and powerful Coalition first come together to put an end to the evil practice of child killing in the city? Of what use is it to expend energy in feeding and clothing children when clearly many children in the city are in serious danger of being killed?”

The leaders seem somewhat shaken and at a loss to answer these penetrating questions but assure us that others are looking after the problem, and that, in fact, many residents of the city do not find the killing of these children objectionable.

We are dumbfounded by this claim, asking Coalition members what sort of callous hard hearted people live in this city. Furthermore we demand to know why it is that those who have been assigned to solve these despicable crimes have not been able to put a halt to such barbarism.

We surmise that such crimes might be the result of recent actions by some particularly heinous serial killer(s). But upon inquiry we learn that this activity has been going on for almost forty years in the city. We are totally shocked and appalled by this disclosure and immediately cancel our tour in order to return to our native country, realizing we will learn nothing from Coalition leaders about addressing any of the needs of human beings, let alone children, and admonishing the Coalition to immediately change the focus of their efforts from “abolishing poverty” to abolishing child-killing.


[This parable needs only one distinction be made in order to clearly reflect the reality of our decrepit condition: Mothers don’t dump their children on the streets of St. John’s. It’s certainly too visible but also unnecessary. The government pays abortionists to kill their children and dispose of them in a dumpster or sell their body parts to various private enterprise firms.]

FLASHBACK: Originally posted on the Vote Life Canada blog, Sept. 9, 2007

Humanae Vitae At 45: Recalling Words Of Father Paul Marx

Father Shenan J. Boquet, President, Human Life International shares some thoughts ahead of Thursday’s anniversary of Humanae Vitae. He focuses on some of Father Paul Marx’s comments derived from his autobiography of 1997. Fr. Marx was the founder of Human Life International (HLI).

One of the most powerful observations recorded by Fr. Marx in the excerpt below is sad and shocking but in my experience has proved true as well. It reminds us of the true and high price of fellowship with Christ: We must walk in the light. (I John 1:7)

To militantly reject “Humanae Vitae” is really to reject the Church's moral authority, and such rejection, I have noticed, color's a priest's whole theological outlook and performance. In the first twenty-five years of my priesthood, whenever I met a priest for the first time I could sense an immediate rapport, because we were in total theological agreement. Today the same kinship is felt only when one learns that the newly met priest accepts “Humanae Vitae”.


With Pope Paul VI's prophetic Humanae Vitae turning 45 next Thursday, we wanted to revisit how HLI's founder, Father Paul Marx, took the Holy Father's teaching "On Human Life" to heart. The encyclical would soon inspire the priest who became the first leader of the international pro-life movement. In this excerpt from his 1997 autobiography, Faithful for Life, Father Marx recalls the initial struggle among clergy with the encyclical's teachings. Although he too struggled with the teaching at first, it wasn't long before Fr. Marx fully embraced Humanae Vitae, and realized "what a tragedy the rejection and contradiction of that encyclical would induce."

Excerpt from Faithful for Life, Father Paul Marx

An ancient wise man once said, "God always forgives, men sometimes, Nature, never"; she is jealous of her fertility; she strikes back. And no generation should know that better than today's people. Widespread legal euthanasia is threatening. Daily the line between contraception and abortion becomes ever thinner, while new chemical abortifacients are being added to the arsenal of death and may soon obscure the high visibility of surgical abortion.

 Theologians who dissented [from] Humanae Vitae do not realize how heavily they contributed to the unleashing of the sexual instinct to the destruction of youth and family; to the proliferation of out-of-wedlock births; to the increased number of single-parent families; and to the massive escalation of venereal (now sanitized as "sexually transmitted") disease, divorce, that "alternative lifestyle" we used to call "shacking up," marital unhappiness, and a host of other evils, including child and spousal abuse.

You will recall that my older brother Joseph became a Benedictine monk (Father Michael) at St. John's Abbey. Roman-trained, he taught theology and Scripture for years there. He died 5 May 1993. He and three confreres, Fathers Godfrey Diekmann, Aelred Tegels, and Kieren Nolan, joined Father Charles Curran in officially dissenting to Humanae Vitae in 1968, a subject Father Michael and I could hardly ever discuss thereafter; he persisted in his false view to the end. From all four I learned from what flimsy grounds and inexperience this sad dissent stemmed. To militantly reject Humanae Vitae is really to reject the Church's moral authority, and such rejection, I have noticed, color's a priest's whole theological outlook and performance. In the first twenty-five years of my priesthood, whenever I met a priest for the first time I could sense an immediate rapport, because we were in total theological agreement. Today the same kinship is felt only when one learns that the newly met priest accepts Humanae Vitae.

Humanae Vitae was issued by Paul VI on 25 July 1968. I did not sleep that night. After having tried to help so many couples with the then-available methods of NFP [Natural Family Planning], I yielded to my doubts about the encyclical; I took the dissenting theologians too seriously; I even sponsored some of them. But before long I saw the consequences of contraception and how far they would extend -- that contraception, with its abortifacient tentacles was already devastating Church and society. I sensed, too, from an abundance of NFP counseling, teaching, and promotion, what a tragedy the rejection and contradiction of that encyclical would induce.

But now we know that the prophetic Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae was entirely right in making his amazing three predictions[*]: that the practice of contraception would lower general morality; cause men to use and abuse women; and put a weapon into the hands of the government, which then would enter the sanctuary of the home and there dictate to the couple how many children they may have. All of these predictions have subsequently been fully verified in the estimation of all who have eyes to see. Every day the message of that controversial document resounds more convincingly. After all, Humanae Vitae means "Of Human Life," and you cannot defend human life unless you defend its source, which is God's great gift of human sexuality, whereby he invites the truly loving married couple to intimately cooperate with Him in the mysterious act of creation.

* Today writers generally refer to Humanae Vitae's four predictions, all of which have come to pass -- here Father Marx combines two of them into a single prediction, which some did in the wake of the encyclical’s release. 

Father Marx's witness and faithfulness to the Humanae Vitae's beautiful teachings inspired many to be engaged in pro-life work, and has saved countless lives. In spite of the losses and setbacks we've faced from legal and judicial decisions around the world, there have been tremendous strides made on behalf of life, faith and family. We must never lose heart or give up hope. Though bombarded by strife and evil from every direction, we are a people of joy.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International

From Catholic Medical Quarterly:

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Worldwide Practice of Contraception Precipitating Generational Violence

In this remarkable interview with Rev. Wojciech Giertych OP, the Theologian of the Papal Household, we are presented with a shocking and frightful thesis, i.e. that our global, hedonistic culture is edging ever closer to self-destruction by means of a violent uprising.

A fantastic claim, to be sure, but such is the import and significance of the vile practice of contraception, “a most unnatural wickedness.”

We've certainly been warned, many times over the long span of history, so we have no excuse, but watching the disintegration of a great and glorious civilization is an extremely painful, tormenting experience.

[Back in February of 2007, the same Fr. Giertych delivered a thought provoking speech at the conclusion of the international congress on natural law organized by the Pontifical Lateran University.]